UCA set for first season in Atlantic Sun Conference
Brown, Bears excited to be part of ASUN Media Day
www.uca.edu Central Arkansas football coach Nathan Brown, along with the coaches from other ASUN schools met with the media during the inaugural ASUN Media Day on Friday at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta.
Teams playing in the ASUN this season include: UCA, Kennesaw State, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Austin Peay and North Alabama.
“We’re excited to be here in Atlanta for the ASUN Media Day,” Brown said.
“The vision of this conference is intriguing and enticing to all these universities and athletic programs. It’s been a good change. It’s something that has added energy to our program at the University of Central Arkansas.”
A year ago, UCA finished 5-6 and 1-1 in ASUN games. This year, the ASUN will play a full conference slate.
Brown spoke about several players, including two who attended the media day.
“Two men who are here, if I could put them in front of program, epitomize what a student-athlete at UCA should look like,” Brown said, referring to junior defensive end Logan Jessup of Wynne and junior receiver Christian Richmond of Houston.
“Both of these young men are what you student-athletes to look like. Logan has graduated. Christian is a semester away from graduating. Logan actually got married a month ago. He’s playing with two years of eligibility left as a married man. I question him sometimes.
“I’m excited that they are here and excited about their contributions for the 2022 football season, building on the great careers that they’ve already had.”
A year ago, Jessup had 60 total tackles, including 11 for losses. He had five quarterback sacks, broke up two passes and recovered one fumble. He also forced a fumble.
Richmond caught 31 passes for 342 yards and six touchdowns. He returned 18 kickoffs for 510 yards, with a long of 62 yards. He returned six punts for 69 yards, with a long of 33 yards.
Brown said rebounding from a below .500 record is what is on the team’s collective mind this season.
“Over the last decade, we’ve won over 70 percent of our games,” he said.
“We weren’t able to do that last fall. Our exceptions are a lot higher at the University of Central Arkansas. We take great pride in representing our school and our conference and level of FCS football.
We want to do better than we did last fall.”
UCA’s schedule is highlighted with non-conference games against Missouri State and Ole Miss.
The Bears play Missouri State on Sept. 1 at Estes Stadium in Conway.
Missouri State is coached by former Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino.
The Bears travel to Oxford, Miss., to play the Rebels on Sept. 10.
“We welcome that with one of the more challenging schedules that we’ve put together in a recent history, at least in our Division 1 era,” Brown said.
Brown said UCA athletic director Brad Teague has done a good job with scheduling.
“He’s been on the playoff committee,” Brown said.
“He knows what it takes, in that room, to do if you don’t get the automatic bid. If you don’t get the automatic bid, this conference knows it wants to have two or three teams in the national playoffs every single year. To do that, you’ve got to play a tough nonconference schedule. We’re excited about that.”
Brown said his team is trying to adapt to changed in the NCAA, especially with Name, Image and Likeness and the transfer portal.
“There’s a little bit of change that everyone is dealing with right now,” he said. “We are having to adopt with the times. The transfer portal, the NIL— all those things that you at all these media days with people talking about.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction at the NCAA. Obviously, we’re giving an opportunity for these players to capitalize
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Photo courtesy of UCA UCA (cont.)
at the University of Central Arkansas.”
Brown said the Bears have his the transfer portal more for this coming season than in year’s past.
“In my first three years as a head coach, we averaged six or seven transfers a year,” he said. “This year, we will play with 15 transfers. That has changed the we have recruited, changed the outlook on our program. It’s a philosophical change. You’ve got to adapt with the times. If you don’t adapt, you’re going to stay stale, and things are not going to go your way.”
Photo courtesy of UCA