About the Samford Bulldogs
Samford is located in Birmingham, Ala., and is coached by 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan. The Bulldogs, a Football Championship Subdivision program out of the Southern Conference, return 15 starters and 69 letter winners from their 2009 team. They are led offensively by junior quarterback Dustin Taliaferro, senior running back Chris Evans and senior offensive lineman Thomas Gray. Senior middle linebacker Bryce Smith, the Southern Conference preseason Defensive Player of the Year, heads a strong unit which also features defensive lineman John Michael Clay.
Key returnees abound
Taliaferro passed for 1,692 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions during 2009...Evans enters this season as Samford's all-time leading rusher and is the school's first back to rush for 1,000 yards in three-straight seasons after amassing 1,152 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. A two-time all-conference selection, he also led the team with 38 receptions and is on the 2010 Payton Award Watch List.... Wide receiver Riley Hawkins, a member of the 2008 Southern Conference All-Freshman Team, led Samford in receiving with 34 receptions for 638 yards and four touchdowns and is a dangerous kick returner...Defensively, Smith led all FCS players in 2009 with 7.2 solo tackles per game and is on the 2010 Buchanan Award Watch List. He also earned first team All-SoCon honors last season...Clay is a fourth-year starter on the defensive front and was a second team all-conference selection last season.
FSU-Samford ties that bind
Current FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and his legendary predecessor Bobby Bowden both played quarterback at Samford.The school was known as Howard College when Bowden earned Little All-American honors for the Bulldogs, where he was a teammate of Jerry Sullivan, the father of the current Samford coach. Samford assistant Ross Robinson was on the Auburn staff with Jimbo Fisher when current FSU assistant Dameyune Craig played quarterback for the Tigers. Robinson worked on the Auburn offensive staff coordinated by Tommy Bowden. Terry Bowden was the head coach and Fisher tutored the Auburn quarterbacks.
Alabama and Florida connections
Samford has eight current players from Florida in RB Alex Barnett (Niceville), WR JaUan Davis (Tallahassee), WR Riley Hawkins (Pace), DL Adam Fischer (Melbourne), DL Calvin Ruff (Tampa), LB Taylor O'Bryan (Orlando), CB Issac Cooper (Fort Walton Beach) and P Greg Peranich (Pace).
FSU has three players from the state of Alabama in Rodney Hudson (Mobile), Blake Snider (Anniston) and Nigel Terrell (Pelham). Assistant coaches Lawrence Dawsey (Dothan) and Dameyune Craig (Prichard) are also from the state of Alabama.