By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports
Video by Tom Hollander and Marc Graham, Video Coordinators
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- They are prime numbers, a certain set of digits that have a special quality about them. Any numbers but themselves cannot divide them.
Watching Tennessee Tech's second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday as the centerpiece of the annual Gathering of Eagles in Tucker Stadium, players wearing prime numbers continually made key plays.
Call them "prime" players, whether they are returnees or newcomers, but they are some of the players who will likely shine this season for coach Watson Brown's team.
For example, Ladarius Vanlier (3) broke off several nifty runs including a 10-yard touchdown burst through a crowded secondary, then took a punt return 99 yards for a touchdown.
Or Darian Stone (5), who ran the ball well, made some outstanding catches from the ever-amazing QW position. He rushed three times for 32 yards including a touchdown, and caught three balls for 64 yards
Even Steve Wilson (1), whose single digit is not quite considered prime by some mathematicians but fits the criteria, had some sensational plays during the afternoon including a leaping, 65-yard touchdown catch and run on a deep ball. He finished the day with four catches for 95 yards.
Later in the scrimmage, runningback Isaiah McKinney (43) plowed over for a touchdown, and on the next possession it was Dorian Eskridge (47) with a brilliant 29-yard TD run up the middle and through several tackle attempts.
On the defensive side of scrimmage, Marty Jones (11), Demario Donnell (13) and Jimmy Laughlin (23) all showed why they are expected to be in starting spots come the season opener, Thursday, Aug. 28, against Kentucky Christian.
Call them "prime" players or "prime time" players, they will play primary roles in Tech's 2014 success.
But Saturday's scrimmage, which resulted in 584 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, featured some masterful plays by guys wearing less distinct numbers. Guys who will certainly distinguish their own numbers among team leaders, too.
Newcomer Keith Flannigan (9) at cornerback was one of the most sure-handed, open-field tacklers, transfer runningback Willie Davis (22) showed power on the goal line as well as some elusive, open-field running as he finished with 30 yards and one touchdown on six carries, and sophomore receiver Colton Belew (10) caught three passes for 34 yards and also threw some effective blocks.
Among others were redshirt freshman Brock McCoin (4), who was spot-on in his running and passing displays, including that bomb to Wilson; freshman receiver Tyler Harrell (38), who grabbed a big-play, 27-yard pass; freshman cornerback Jalen Manning (25), who picked a loose ball out of mid-air after a reception and hard hit jarred it loose, and sped 80 yards the other way for a touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Jared Davis (18) was 14-for-15 passing for 183 yards, starting the game by connecting on his first nine attempts. His only incompletion of the day was a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. In all six players threw passes, going a combined 23-for-32 for 343 yards.
Freshman Dorian Carter (25) was the leading rusher with 52 yards on two carries. A total of 14 players had carries, gaining 241 yards with five rushing touchdowns on 43 tries.
Some of the big plays on defense included a blocked punt by senior Stephen Bush (21), fumble recoveries by Elliott Normand (49) and Dakota Rushing (95), another quarterback sack by Jordan Patrick (94), and a fumble forced by J.P. Evans.
In the kicking game, John Arnold connected on all four of his field goal tries with kicks of 25, 27, 32 and 42 yards, and punter Jonathan King averaged 53 yards on three kicks, putting all three inside the opponent 10-yard-line.
The Golden Eagles take a break from action Sunday, and then hit the field again Monday.
By the way, just to complete the lesson, here are all the "prime" numbers under 100: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97