Troy (Ala.) State quarterback Carey Christensen's favorite hobby is hunting rattlesnakes. "He offered to make me a rattlesnake hatband," says coach Chan Gailey, "but I was trying to discourage it totally, so I said no." The Trojans run the only wishbone in Division II, and they do so without a huddle, Christensen calling the play at the line. That gives him more time to size up the defense, but that's not why Gailey skips the huddle. "The offensive linemen jog seven yards to and from the huddle every play," says Gailey, "and that's 900 yards of running you save during a game. And you save a lot of time in practice."
Mississippi College has two 260-pound guards, tackles weighing in at 270 and 316, and a center, Keith (Hambone) Hammond, who goes 320. Nevertheless, pro scouts are looking at svelte 6'5", 242-pound tight end Harold Stanfield. who's also a 7.50 60-yard high hurdler. Another key Choctaw: Reggie Hawthorne, who made II of 11 field goals (one from 42 yards) last season before breaking an ankle on a punt return in the sixth game.
Freshman quarterback Jeff Bentrim took over North Dakota State's veer option in the fifth game of 1983 and, along with freshman running backs James Molstre and Chad Stark, led the Bison to a 12-1 season. State won the national championship with a 41-21 romp over Central (Ohio) State in the Palm Bowl. State's backfield became known as the Kiddie Corps, of course. Three Bison offensive lineman signed with NFL teams, but the team was hardest hit on defense, losing both cornerbacks and the entire line.
The key to Central State's performance last season was sophomore Mark Richardson-Corbin. The fifth-string fullback at the start of summer practice, he ended up running for a division-high 1,701 yards. The quarterback is James Woody, who threw 36 TD passes as the Marauders averaged 439.6 yards and 39.8 points a game. Eighteen first-stringers, including 10 on defense, are back.
The Lone Star Conference is a toss-up. Abilene Christian is led by the prolific Loyal Proffitt, who has passed for 6,245 yards in his three years as a starter. East Texas State lost its quarterback, Kyle Mackey, but everyone else, most notably Rickey Dirks, who ran for 1,299 yards in '83, returns.
UC-Davis will win its 14th consecutive Northern California Conference crown on the arm of Scott Barry, a more accurate passer than his predecessor, Ken O'Brien, who's now with the Jets. Santa Clara won four of its last five games in '83. This year the Broncos have seven home dates and 19 returning starters, including All-America center Alex Vlahos.
Clarion (Pa.) middle guard Kevin Ewing may be the best defensive player in the division. In 1983 he had four fumble recoveries, 139 tackles and eight sacks. Ewing, end Jon Haslett (17 sacks in '83), All-America tailback Elton Brown (1,214 yards), split end Terry McFetridge, who averaged 18.9 yards on 50 catches, and quarterback Pat Carbol, who threw for 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in '83, will lead the Golden Eagles to their 21st straight winning season.
Meet East Stroudsburg split end Tim (Bye-Bye) Bishop. The nickname isn't hard to figure: Last year he averaged 30.3 yards on 18 catches, including plays of 90, 80, 72 and 62 yards. The quarterbacks are Andy Baranek, who threw for 1,171 yards despite missing four games with an ankle sprain, and Charlie Diskin, who passed for 1,180 in relief.
Nebraska-Omaha was the only team to beat North Dakota State (18-10) last season. The Mavericks still have Randy Naran, who completed 177 of 294 passes for 2,235 yards, wide receiver James Quaites, who averaged 19.4 yards on 47 catches, and solid protection from Ron Peterson (6'9", 280 pounds), a former national teenage trapshooting champion.
1. CENTRAL STATE (OHIO)
2. TROY (ALA.) STATE
4. MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE
6. ABILENE CHRISTIAN
8. EAST STROUDSBURG
9. EAST TEXAS STATE
10. SANTA CLARA