Knee injury may limit NesSmith to holder, supporter

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Southeast receiver reinjured his surgically repaired knee.

By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian

Chris NesSmith plans to give Southeast Missouri State University's football team all the moral support he can this season -- even if his serious playing days appear to be in major jeopardy.

NesSmith, one of the Indians' most dependable wide receivers the last two years, was looking forward to a big senior campaign after apparently recovering well from a major knee injury that required surgery at the end of last season.

But, while running pass routes about a month ago, NesSmith blew out the same left knee and it's doubtful he'll be able to play receiver for the Indians this year, although he plans to return to his job as holder for field goals and extra points.

"My knee was feeling good and strong, and then I tore the ACL again," NesSmith said during Southeast's media day activities Tuesday morning at Houck Stadium. "It's very disappointing, being my senior year and all.

"I'll definitely be able to hold. I'll try to get a few reps at wide receiver, wearing a brace, but I'll have to have another surgery after the season."

An Alabama native, the 6-foot, 170-pound NesSmith was Southeast's third-leading receiver last year -- and No. 1 among wide outs -- as he caught 39 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns.

As a sophomore in 2002, NesSmith had 38 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

"Chris is a really good player and a great member of the team. It's a shame he got hurt again," Southeast coach Tim Billings said. "Some days the knee feels all right, so maybe he'll still be able to help us some at receiver."

Whether he can catch passes or not, NesSmith still plans to make his presence felt at practices and games -- and he'll encourage his younger brother Scott, also a wide receiver who is a freshman in eligibility after redshirting last year.

"I'll help out the wide receivers and support the team as much as possible," he said. "And my brother's been looking good, so that's exciting."

Coleman back at WR

While Chris NesSmith might not be able to catch passes for Southeast any longer, Bill Coleman is glad he's back in the mix at wide receiver.

Following a solid redshirt freshman season in 2002 that saw him record 32 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns, Coleman was ruled academically ineligible just a few days before last year's opener.

"It was tough, but I learned my lesson," said Coleman, a junior in eligibility. "I kind of let my academics go down and I paid for it. But I've got it together now."

And Coleman said rust shouldn't be an issue.

"I played in the spring and I've been here all summer," he said. "I'm not rusty."

Tipton, Miller return

Two years ago, Marco Tipton and Mike Miller both started in the secondary as they were part of the Indians' breakthrough 8-4 season that marked the program's best record since 1969.

They expected to shine again last season -- but those plans were derailed by knee injuries early in the year that forced them to medically redshirt.

Both players are now healthy -- and couldn't be happier.

"Last year was tough, but I'm 100 percent now and ready to go," said Tipton, a senior cornerback from St. Louis who in 2002 earned second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference honors.

Said Miller, a hard-hitting junior safety from Florida who made 63 tackles in 2002, "It was very tough sitting out, but it feels good to be out here again."

Local connection

Nine players from area high schools are on Southeast's roster, including four returning starters.

Returning regulars, all seniors, are All-American tight end Ray Goodson (Jackson), offensive tackle Caleb Daniel (Jackson), linebacker O.J. Turner (Central) and placekicker Derek Kutz (St. Vincent). Daniel started on defense last year before being converted to offense in the spring.

Also returning are redshirt freshman fullback Adam Casper (Anna-Jonesboro, Ill.) and sophomore reserve tight end Seth McDowell (Jackson).

New to the program are sophomore linebacker Seth Harrell (Jackson), a transfer from Missouri, where he was on the team last year but saw no game action, and two freshmen: safety Mark Dunaway (Central) and kicker Colin Schermann (Central).

Noteworthy

Kutz and senior offensive tackle Dan Connolly have been elected Southeast's co-captains for the season after voting by their teammates.

Wide receiver Anthony Gilliam, who caught 31 passes for a 13.5-yard average last year, recently informed Southeast's coaching staff of his decision to transfer, probably to a Division II program in his native Oklahoma.

For the second straight year, Billings will have a weekly television show airing at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday on UPN-The Beat (WQWQ-17).

Todd Richards, first-year sports director of KFVS-TV and UPN-The Beat, will host the show that will debut on Sept. 2 prior to Southeast's season opener at Southern Illinois that will be televised by UPN-The Beat.

Billings will continue to have a radio show each Wednesday during the season from 6-7 p.m. on KGIR-AM 1220. Erik Sean will host from Buffalo Wild Wings.

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