ASU head football coach Mike White
ALBANY — Albany State head football coach Mike White has heard all about the recent Twitter issues in college football — from players getting disciplined for derogatory tweets, to sending out pictures of playbooks, to coaches banning the social media site altogether.
White, however, said this week at practice that the issue hasn’t been a problem with his players.
And he’d like to keep it that way.
“We talked about that the very first day, about how we should handle ourselves and who you think you are talking to,” White said. “You are talking to thousands of people and everybody who is on the Internet. All of our opponents look at that, and if they were in front of you, then you wouldn’t have said that. That’s the way you gotta look at it.”
The issue has recently been a hot topic around college campuses since Florida State defensive back Tyler Hunter, a sophomore from Valdosta, tweeted “kill cops” during a routine traffic stop.
Florida State has since joined the long list of college football programs to ban its players from using Twitter, but White said he doesn’t see that happening at Albany State.
“It hasn’t been a problem, and I hope it doesn’t become a problem,” he said. “I remember a few years ago — I don’t remember the team — but we had some guys chattering back and forth about an upcoming game. I thought about (banning) it at that time, but I think the younger coaches monitor that more than I do.”
And the coaches aren’t just monitoring the trash-talking between teams. White said he wants to make sure none of his players give any secrets away like Georgia offensive lineman Hunter Long, who recently tweeted images of his team’s playbook, or Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams, who did the same.
“I just don’t want it to become a problem or an issue with us trash-talking or saying something negative about a guy or a team or giving out something we might be trying to do by just talking with somebody else and blabbing about something you shouldn’t say,” White said.
White said the team gets plenty of publicity as it is from local media outlets.
“I got six calls the other day when I walked in the house. It was 10 minutes after 11, and my wife said, ‘Hey, you got several messages.’ I listened to them, and everybody was talking about the (new) quarterback (we just signed). ... (Fans) keep up with our team, they track it by The Herald. I don’t think anybody else gets the same coverage as we do, which is a good thing. These guys enjoy it. It gets our program out. I definitely have to answer a lot of questions from people. (But)if I hadn’t read The Herald, I would be wondering where in the world they got that (information) from.”
-- Mike White,
ASU coach lauding the coverage his team gets by The Herald and how it raises the visibility of his program
“Out of all the teams we play, I don’t think anybody is on the Internet as much as us because of the press here,” White said. “The Albany Herald covers us and it ends up (all over the Internet). Fort Valley sometimes gets in the Macon (Telegraph), but the rest of the teams don’t get coverage like we do. It’s not a bad thing.”
White gave the example of earlier in the week when The Herald first reported that the team signed former Florida Atlantic QB David Kooi.
“I got six calls the other day when I walked in the house,” White said. “It was 10 minutes after 11, and my wife said, ‘Hey, you got several messages.’ I listened to them, and everybody was talking about the quarterback. ... (Fans) keep up with our team, they track it by The Herald.”
White later added: “I don’t think anybody else gets the same coverage as we do, which is a good thing. These guys enjoy it. It gets our program out. I definitely have to answer a lot of questions from people. (But) if I hadn’t read The Herald, I would be wondering where in the world they got that (information) from.”
ASU'S KICKING WOES OVER?: Albany State went halfway around the world last season to try to cure its kicking woes.
As it turns out, the answer might have been a little closer to home.
Australian rules kicker/punter Luke Jones didn't work out, and the team's other two kickers — Brandon Hamilton and Tory Torstenson — aren't back either. But White is optimistic that the new trio of Justin Keable, Zack Holley and Dillan Fontaine will provide some stability in the kicking game.
Keable, a native of DeLand, Fla., and former star punter at Bethune-Cookman, has already locked up the starting punter job, while Holley and Fontaine will battle for the starting spot at place kicker.
"We are hoping very much that Justin answers all of our (punter problems) this year. He has a lot of football intelligence," White said. "I'm hoping (either Holley or Fontaine) just goes out and outdoes the other one. We are getting ready to start keeping up with their numbers and stats during practice so we can make a good decision."
Jones, meanwhile, is back in Australia, Hamilton was ruled academically ineligible and Torstenson graduated. Hamilton, who nailed 13 of his 17 field goals, was the only one of the three who had any success last season — Jones' Aussie talents didn't transition onto the gridiron, and he averaged just 32.8 yards per punt, while Torstenson was a paltry 26-for-36 in PATs.
It's been years since the Rams have had consistency in the kicking game, but Keable, who was a two-time All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference punter and averaged 42.2 yards per punt his final season, thinks he can solve that problem.
"It feels a little exciting that you can contribute to a program that otherwise might not know how to recruit at that position," Keable said. "I think we are going to look really good (in the kicking game) this year."
White said Keable, who sat out last season because of eligibility issues, is capable of being a key part of the team.
"He has a lot of knowledge about kicking," White said. "As a matter of fact, he has more knowledge about kicking than I do. I ask him questions about kicking and punting. I think he is going to have a good year.
“He has been waiting to punt. He is hungry to get back on the field."