Tuscaloosa connection leading the way for Tuskegee


Tuskegee’s El’ Malik Chinn (33) is a former Tuscaloosa County High School standout and one of the leaders on the Tigers’ defense this season.


TUSKEGEE | The Tuskegee Golden Tigers football team has one of the stingiest defenses in college football.

Now it has the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship to prove it.

Featuring five players from the West Alabama area, Tuskegee won its 26th SIAC championship with a 55-24 win over Fort Valley State last Saturday at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. The Golden Tigers have won five SIAC titles in seven years under coach Willie Slater.

"This might the sweetest one of them all," Slater said after the game. "All the credit goes to our players and coaches. This is a great football team with a lot of great players, but they play more as a team than as a bunch of individuals."

The Golden Tigers (9-1, 7-0 SIAC) have former Tuscaloosa County High School standouts El’ Malik Chinn (sophomore linebacker) and Tyrin Thurman (sophomore defensive back), former Central High standout Travon Lawson (senior defensive back) and former Paul W. Bryant High’s Patrick Pugh (freshman defensive tackle/linebacker) on defense.

Chinn started all 10 games this season and finished second on the team with 78 tackles, including 48 solo stops. He had eight tackles for loss (minus-30 yards), eight passes defended, three sacks (minus-21 yards), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Lawson played in two games and recorded two tackles and two passes defended, while Thurman played in two games and recorded one tackle. Pugh did not see action this season, according to the school’s website.

Chinn anchored a defense that dominated the SIAC. The Golden Tigers ranked in the top three in the league in the six major statistical categories. Tuskegee led the league in scoring defense (11.4 points per game), total defense (281.6 yards per game) and turnover margin (plus-15), ranked second in rushing defense (107.7) and third in pass defense (173.9) and pass efficiency defense (97.6).

Tuskegee ranked in the top 10 in Division II in scoring defense (second), turnover margin (fifth), total defense (ninth) and pass efficiency defense (ninth). Indiana University-Pennsylvania is the only Division II school to allow fewer points per game (11.2) than Tuskegee this season.

"Our defense has had a great year," Slater said. "We’ve been able to stop people, and you can’t take anything away from that once our goals are set on that side of the ball. We have some players make some big plays."

On offense, Larry Cobb, a sophomore from Demopolis, saw action in all 10 games and was Tuskegee’s second-leading receiver with 18 catches for 285 yards and one TD. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch this season.

Tuskegee posted three straight shutouts against Stillman (16-0), Kentucky State (37-0) and Clark Atlanta (14-0) from Oct. 11-27.

Tuskegee will play Alabama State in the annual Turkey Day Classic in Montgomery. This year’s game will be played at the Hornets’ new on-campus stadium, which will make its debut Thursday. The Golden Tigers are also expected to play in the Pioneer Bowl on Dec. 1 at A.J. McClung Stadium in Columbus, Ga. Due to its participation in the Turkey Day Classic, Tuskegee is not eligible for the NCAA Division II Playoffs, which begin today.

 

Tuskegee player files:

Larry Cobb: In 19 career games, Cobb has recorded 23 catches for 243 yards and one TD … Played in all 10 games this season … His best game came in the 27-17 win over Miles that clinched the SIAC Western Division championship … In that game, he caught four passes for 79 yards and one TD.

El’ Malik Chinn: In 19 career games, Chinn has logged 118 tackles, 16 tackles for loss (minus-45 yards) and 10 passes defended … He has recorded 10 or more tackles three times … Chinn is the team’s second-leading tackler (78) this season … He recorded 10 tackles in the 7-6 loss to FCS member Alabama A&M in the season opener … He had seven tackles and two tackles for loss (minus-18 yards) in the win over hometown rival Stillman … He recorded a game-high 11 tackles, two tackles for loss (minus-4 yards) and one sack (minus-3 yards) in the SIAC championship game against Fort Valley State … He had 40 tackles in nine games last season.

Travon Lawson: In seven career games, Lawson has recorded three tackles and one pass breakup on defense … He is also averaging 20.3 yards on five kickoff returns … He had two tackles and one pass breakup this season.

Patrick Pugh: Pugh did not see action in his first season at Tuskegee this year.

Tyrin Thurman: In five career games, Thurman has logged three tackles … He played in two games this season and record one tackle … He played in three games last year as a freshman and posted one tackle in the season opener against Langston.