ALBANY -- Spenser Ferrell had every intention of competing for the No. 1 spot on the Darton College golf team next season.
Now the three-time GCAA state champion from Byne Christian is saying it's time to move on from collegiate golf.
On Tuesday, Ferrell told The Herald that he will be academically ineligible next season, which will prevent him from returning to a Cavalier golf squad that finished fifth in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in May.
"I wanted to go for that No. 1 spot on the team," Ferrell said. "I wanted a national championship ring. I wanted to win district again like I did in the spring. I had a lot of goals going into next year, and now you just have to take them off the list."
Ferrell played No. 3 for the Cavs as a freshman, and newly-named coach Bill Jones III said he was looking for Ferrell to be one of his top golfers again next year.
"It's pretty tough to deal with, and we are pretty disappointed to not have him on our team," Jones said. "He was a good player for us and had a lot of talent. We were expecting a lot of good things from him. And it's pretty disappointing when something like this happens."
Ferrell, The Herald's 2009 co-Player of the Year for boys golf with Deerfield's Josh Crews, said he will miss his teammates more than anything.
Ferrell shot 16-over in the four-day National Tournament in Odessa, Texas. But after struggling a bit throughout the first three rounds, he fired an even-par 72 on the final day to help the Cavs jump up to a tie for fifth place. He eventually finished tied for 59th overall.
"He started off a little slower than we expected last year, but by the end of the year he started to come around," Jones said of Ferrell, who also missed more than two months of this past season on academic suspension. "He wasn't going to be one of our border line players next year. We will be a little worse as a team because of this, but it gives some incoming freshmen a chance to prove themselves."
Jones, who recently replaced long-time Cavs coach Dale Dover, has signed five freshmen during the offseason, including Jonathan Howard from Columbus and Robert Robertson from Evans -- two Georgia products that are expected to make immediate impacts on the team.
Ferrell said he will be pursuing a job at a local golf club instead of finishing college, but his mind won't be far from the Darton golf team.
"I am still here if they need me," he said. "I really do hate it that I'm going to be leaving Darton and the players behind. It doesn't matter if they win by a few or lose by a few, I am going to wish I was there."
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING:
There isn't anything easy about the first eight days of the upcoming Darton men's soccer season, which coach Bart Sasnett said will give his team a chance to "find out who (they) are very quickly."
The Cavs open the season with four games on the road in eight days, starting with an Aug. 27 match in Pensacola, Fla., against San Jacinto -- which finished last year ranked 11th by the NJCAA.
"We have put together the toughest schedule I have ever had," said Sasnett, who will be entering his fifth season as coach of the Cavs. "I have never opened with four straight away games, and I have never opened with such tough teams."
Darton will also travel to South Georgia, Georgia Perimeter and Louisburg College to start the season.
Players will report to Darton on Aug. 6, and three-a-day practices will begin Aug. 9 -- only there will be a pair of familiar faces that have since moved on from the two-year college. First-Team All Americans Matias Aristegui and Mynor Perez both graduated and received full-ride scholarships to finish out their college soccer careers at Auburn University Montgomery.
"They were special kids and you can't replace them, especially their character and their dedication to Darton," Sasnett said.
Looking to fill that void quickly for the Cavs will be four 2011 Westover grads -- Danny Brown, Corey Walter, Bridger Ferrell and Michael Barron. Brown, who was recently named the Herald's Player of the Year in boys soccer for the third year in a row, led Westover in scoring with 39 goals and 11 assists. He finished his career at Westover with 96 goals and could be a key contributor immediately for the Cavs.
"He is quick, strong and fast," Sasnett said. "We will just have to get him used to playing at this level and this speed."
LOOKING TO GET BACK ON TOP: It's been more than eight months since the Albany State volleyball team lost the SIAC Championship to Kentucky State, preventing the Lady Rams from winning a record-tying 10th straight conference crown.
And ASU coach Robert Skinner said Tuesday that loss is still motivating both himself and his team.
"This offseason, to say the least, has been revengeful," he said. "We have been thinking a lot about preparation, being poised and being focused. All of those things you have to do to be ready for a new year and to make sure that what happened last year doesn't happen again."
The Lady Rams will hit the court Aug. 10 for their first official day of practice with four returning starters ready to put Albany State back on the top.
"They had a good offseason," Skinner said of his team. "They worked a lot. They got a lot of opportunity to play, so I am hoping they come in really focused. We really feel like we will be a better team than we were last year."
The Lady Rams lost setter Priscila Sena and defensive specialist Latoya Jackson but have signed four incoming freshmen from the Atlanta area, including 5-foot-9 outside hitters Sharme Ridley and Jennifer Evans.