A unit that entered the season stacked with veteran upperclassmen saw a freshman get his first career start Friday night.
Keith Suggs, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound true freshman from Indianapolis who grayshirted last year, started at cornerback for the University of Toledo against Boise State in place of injured senior Taikwon Paige.
Paige suffered a hip/groin injury during the first half last week against Ohio State and was downgraded to "doubtful" earlier in the week after results from an MRI weren’t as positive as expected.
Suggs played significant minutes last week against the Buckeyes and in the season-opener Sept. 1 against New Hampshire. But in his first two games, Suggs had yet to record any defensive statistics.
Coming out of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Suggs was rated the 29th-best player in his state by Scout.com, but opted to accept a grayshirt offer from the Rockets. By grayshirting, Suggs was a part-time student at UT last fall while delaying the start of his eligibility clock because he wasn’t yet part of the football team. He officially joined the program last January and went through spring drills.
Suggs recorded one tackle in the first half against Boise State, the first of his college career.
SCHOLAR-BALLERS: UT recognized 175 "scholar-ballers" earlier this week — Rocket student-athletes who have a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher.
An embroidered patch or helmet sticker is presented to each scholar-baller for his/her achievements, and last night 48 UT football players were wearing the sticker on their helmets.
The scholar-baller program began at UT in 2007, with 110 student-athletes recognized that year.
"We are proud of the academic accomplishments of our student-athletes who have been named scholar-ballers," UT athletic director Mike O’Brien said in a statement. "To have 175 student-athletes achieve this recognition is something this university can be proud of."
GAME CAPTAINS: Serving as team captains for UT Friday night were senior linebacker Terrell Anderson, senior tight end Danny Noble, senior defensive lineman Johnie Roberts, and junior linebacker Robert Bell.
The Rockets name their captains on a game-by-game basis to reward hard work and dedication in the previous week of practice.
CREDENTIALS: UT issued a record 156 credentials for Friday night’s game, and 15 professional scouts were in attendance.
An average home game at the Glass Bowl usually brings a handful of scouts to town, and UT normally issues about 120 credentials per game, athletic department spokesman Paul Helgren said.
WNIT RINGS: The UT women’s basketball team was presented with its Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship rings on the field at the Glass Bowl during a timeout in the first quarter.
The Rockets defeated Southern California in the WNIT title last April for the program’s first national tournament championship. They open their 2011-12 campaign Nov. 13 at home against Dayton.
NEW RECRUIT: UT received a nonbinding verbal commitment from Madison Heights (Mich.) wide receiver D.J. Larkins late Thursday night.
Larkins (5-11, 185 pounds) is rated as a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, and reportedly had offers from several Mid-American Conference schools.
Per NCAA rules, UT coach Tim Beckman is not permitted to comment on incoming recruits until they sign a national letter of intent.
Larkins is the Rockets’ 11th verbal commitment for the 2012 recruiting class and the fourth from Michigan.