Venisee gets first career TD

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Sports Editor

With Heyward Skipper having a breakout season for Troy State and talented newcomers like freshman Jason Samples making their names known at the wide out position as well, it’s easy to overlook junior Thomie Venisee.

The Troy State coaching staff came into the season expecting Venisee, one of only three returning experienced wide outs, to complement Skipper’s playmaking ability at the No. 2 spot.

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But Venisee, from Albany, Ga., somehow got lost in a mix of incoming freshmen talent and underclassmen seeking playing time.

That all changed in Saturday’s 20-17 win over Southern Utah.

Working alongside junior transfer Eric Felton as the two slot receivers in coordinator John Shannon’s ‘Trojan Spread,’ Venisee had his biggest game to date as a Trojan. The junior equalled Skipper in catches (four) and touchdowns (one), leading Troy State’s receiving corps with 55 yards on the day.

It was the first time since the season began that a receiver other then Skipper had led the Trojans in receiving yards.

"Felton’s the fastest one (at the slot), but Thomie’s the biggest," said TSU head coach Larry Blakeney. Venisee stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 205 pounds. "I’m glad to see Thomie coming along and making plays. He’s a capable guy and a good young man."

Most of Venisee’s catches came on inside screen plays, but he turned a post route from Nutter into a 27 yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, the first of his career at Troy State.

"They (Southern Utah) were trying to disguise some things early, but they just happened to leave the field open. Brock made the call and we turned it into a big play," said Venisee.

"It felt great," he added about his first touchdown catch. "I knew I could do it. It’s just all about getting the opportunity. We knew we’d have a chance to make some plays, if we just executed and that’s what we did."

The Thunderbirds respected Skipper’s, as well as tailback Demontray Carter’s, big play ability enough to play five defensive backs in the ball game. That created opportunities for Venisee and the slot receivers.

"We knew they were going to give us a chance to make some plays from the slot," Venisee said. "If they did, we were going to take advantage of it as long as they kept giving it to us and didn’t stop us."

For Venisee and the rest of the wide receivers it’s all about "understanding your role." With so many wide outs on the field at one time, Shannon oftentimes takes each receiver through their routes and assignments.

"Being that it’s his (Shannon’s) offense," said Venisee. "He wants to make sure we’ve got everything down pat. We’ve got some good players at wide out, but right now we just have to play our role and stick with it. Coach told us that at some point it will be someone else’s chance. I guess today it was me."