SPARTANBURG — Jacob Huesman is one of those college football players whose career seemed to last about eight years.
That’s because the Chattanooga quarterback packed so much into his four-year career — three Southern Conference championships and three offensive player of the year awards.
Believe it or not, Huesman is finally done with college football, and is working out and hoping for a shot at pro ball. But The Citadel Bulldogs already have had a sneak peek at Huesman’s heir apparent, Alejandro Bennifield, a 6-2, 220-pound junior.
Bennifield, Citadel fans may recall, threw a touchdown pass on the first play of the game in the Mocs’ 31-23 win a year ago, lining up at receiver to throw the second part of a double-pass that covered 75 yards. Bennifield will start at QB for the consensus favorite Mocs this season.
“He’s a lefty and probably played 100 snaps last year in a variety of ways,” said Russ Huesman, the Mocs’ coach and Jacob’s father. “He’s similar to Jacob in that he can run, and he’s probably got a better arm than Jacob had. He might be able to make you miss better than Jacob could, but obviously he’s not going to run the ball 200 times.
“But we feel good about him and like him a lot.”
Still, Jacob Huesman will be missed — especially by his father.
“It’s strange,” Russ Huesman said. “As a dad, it’s really different for me, not seeing him in the offices or the meeting rooms. I miss seeing him every day.”
The Citadel will face the SoCon’s newest member, East Tennessee State, on Oct. 29 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. ETSU is back in the league after a 13-year absence. The Buccaneers dropped football in 2004 before reviving the program a year ago.
“ETSU dropped football, and the SoCon dropped ETSU,” said Bucs coach Carl Torbush.
Torbush, head coach at North Carolina from 1997-2000, is building the program from scratch, and led his team to a 2-9 record a year ago with wins over Warner and Kentucky Wesleyan. The Bucs will play their home games this season at Science Hill High School in Johnson City (Steve Spurrier’s old school), with a new, $26 million stadium set to open in 2017.
“It’s exciting, tough, rewarding, frustrating about like you’d expect,” Torbush said of starting a program from scratch.
Torbush has signed two recruiting classes, so the Bucs’ roster includes mostly freshmen and sophomores.
“The fans are really excited to have football back,” Torbush said. “I’ve coached at a lot of big schools, and the excitement has been second to none.”
The Bucs will play their SoCon opener on Sept. 17 against Western Carolina at Bristol MotorSpeedway.
SoCon schedules are dotted with big-money games against Power 5 teams this season, leading off with Furman’s date at Michigan State on Sept. 2.
Other big games: Mercer at Georgia Tech and Wofford at Ole Miss on Sept. 10; Samford at Mississippi State on Oct. 29; and The Citadel at North Carolina, Chattanooga at Alabama and Western Carolina at South Carolina on Nov. 19.
The Citadel’s games at Mercer on Sept. 1 and against Chattanooga on Oct. 15 are slated for broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast. Seven games -- Furman, Western Carolina, North Greenville, Wofford, ETSU, Samford and VMI -- will be on ESPN3. The Sept. 17 game at Gardner-Webb will be carried on the Big South Digital Network. Coverage for the Nov. 19 game at North Carolina is uncertain at this point.
First-Team Offense: QB Al Cobb, Jr., VMI; RB Derrick Craine, Sr., Chattanooga; RB Detrez Newsome, Jr., Western Carolina; OL Isaiah Pinson, Jr. The Citadel; OL Brett Niederreither, Sr., Mercer; OL Armando Bonheur, Sr., Samford; OL Corey Levin, Sr., Chattanooga; OL Jacob Revis, Jr., Chattanooga; OL Anton Wahrby, Sr., Wofford; TE Tyler Sexton, Sr., Western Carolina; WR Karel Hamilton, Sr., Samford; WR Aaron Sanders, Sr., VMI.
First-Team Defense: DL Joe Crochet, Sr., The Citadel; DL Ahmad Gooden, So., Samford; DL Keionta Davis, Sr., Chattanooga; DL Miles Brown, So., Wofford; LB Tevin Floyd, Sr., The Citadel; LB Nakevion Leslie, Sr., Chattanooga; LB Tyson Dickson, Sr., Western Carolina; LB Daniel Riddle, Jr., Western Carolina; DB Dee Delaney, Jr., The Citadel; DB Trey Robinson, Sr., Furman; DB Jamerson Blount, Sr., Samford; DB Lucas Webb, Jr., Chattanooga.
First-Team Specialists: PK Henrique Ribeiro, Sr., Chattanooga; P Ian Berryman, So., Western Carolina; RS Dane Forlines, Sr., VMI