Football team hosts annual media day photos, interviews

Head coach Paul Hamilton and members of the Phoenix football team took time out from their preseason practice schedule Thursday, Aug. 11 to take team photos and meet with members of the regional media during the squad’s annual media day activities at Rhodes Stadium.

Head coach Paul Hamilton and players Kyle Belkoski, Reggie Hall, Anthony Harris and Mark Jetton held a news conference with reporters.

Hamilton said although the team didn’t win as many games as he had hoped during last year’s 3-8 season, his first at Elon, the Phoenix did accomplish one important goal.

“I was proud of the way our football team competed last year,” said Hamilton. “If we did not win, our players felt like we should have won. The biggest step we’ve made is that when we run out on the field, our players believe we ought to win.”

Hamilton said the offensive line is poised for a successful season. After paving the way for 1,000-yard rusher John Taylor last season, the offensive line returns a solid core of performers and will welcome back Michael Patram, who missed the 2004 season with a knee injury. Although Taylor does not return to the offensive backfield, Reggie Hall figures to step into a starting role at running back after being slowed by injury last year.

“I’ve been preparing for this for the last two seasons,” said Hall. “I’m hungry for the chance to play and contribute.”

Other players to watch on offensive include Belkoski at tight end, Michael Mayers at wide receiver and Jarrett Meadors at fullback.

Kye Hamilton is back for his sophomore season at quarterback. Hamilton became the first Elon QB in 11 seasons to throw for 1,000 yards last year, and his leadership figures to be crucial to a relatively young group of receivers. “Kye is playing with more confidence and poise,” said Paul Hamilton. “He can run our offense on the field.”

Nine starters return to the defensive unit, led by linebacker Chad Nkang, who Hamilton calls “one of the best players in (NCAA) I-AA football.” Nkang was an all-conference and all-region pick last year, leading Elon with 135 tackles. Cody Scoggins, Mike Sheley, Mark Ewing and Mark Hatch will all have a chance to contribute at linebacker.

The secondary is a talented but relatively young group that returns Anthony Harris, the projected starter at free safety. Harris intercepted four passes last season. Also returning in the secondary is Dwayne Ijames, a cornerback who picked off four passes. Chris Bland and Jacobi Jones are also players to watch in the secondary.

Overall, building depth on defense is a priority for Hamilton. “We’ve got to get to a point depth-wise where we have guys who are putting pressure on those starters.”

Elon opens its season Sept. 3 at Rhodes Stadium in a 6 p.m. game against Coastal Carolina University. Other home games this season include Presbyterian (Sept. 17, 2 p.m., Homecoming); North Carolina A&T (Sept. 24, 6 p.m.); Georgia Southern (Oct. 1, 2 p.m.); Chattanooga (Oct. 15, 6 p.m.); and Appalachian State (Nov. 19, 6 p.m.).