LOOKING UP: Change and growth make up the character of Trojan athletics during 2015

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

file Photo 2015 saw a lot of growth and change for the Troy University athletic programs. The football program saw a new coach take the helm while the baseball team said goodbye to a longtime coach.

file Photo
2015 saw a lot of growth and change for the Troy University athletic programs. The football program saw a new coach take the helm while the baseball team said goodbye to a longtime coach.

Troy University athletic programs saw growth and change in 2015 as the university welcomed a new coach and said goodbye to another.

After former football head coach Larry Blakeney retired late in 2014 the athletic department swept into action and hired former Trojan offensive coordinator Neal Brown. As soon as the calendar flipped to 2015 and spring practice neared, quite optimism crept in around the program.

That optimism peaked in Troy’s home opener in early September against FCS opponent Charleston Southern, a game they won handily 44-16, and then again in the “Battle for the Belt” game against South Alabama.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Even though the 4-8 record doesn’t show much, the Trojans planted a seed in 2015 that they hope will grow. They finished with one more win than 2014 and players such as quarterback Brandon Silvers and Emmanuel Thompson took strides offensively, while players like Rashad Dillard made an impact on the defensive side of the ball.

“Visually, you can see the improvements that we have made all year,” Brown said. “We were one of the most improved defenses in the country. Offensively we averaged a touchdown more than last year. We knew we were a much improved football team.”

While Brown’s career got started in 2015, head baseball coach Bobby Pierce’s storied career came to end. Pierce coached 13 seasons at Troy, setting a school record with 450 wins.

The Trojans ended the regular season with a 10-game home conference-winning streak.


“I really appreciate the resiliency and perseverance of this team to hang in there and get the ship turned into the right direction,” Pierce said. “I couldn’t be more proud to coach this team.”

The Troy women’s basketball team experienced their fair share of struggles over the past decade, but 2015 saw a step in the right direction.

After finishing the 2013-2014 with a disappointing 12-18 and 8-10 within the conference, the Trojans exploded in the 2014-2015 season and finished with a 20-11 record.

It was just the fourth time in program history that a Troy women’s team broke the 20-win threshold. They finished conference play with a 15-5 record and were selected to take part in the Women’s Basketball Invitational at the end of the season.

The men’s basketball team may have struggled in 2014-2015, finishing the season with a 19-10 overall record and a 5-15 record within the conference, but they left some things to be excited about. Freshman Wesley Person finished the year as the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 14 points per game.

The volleyball team struggled for the most part in 2015, but it didn’t come without excitement. Late in the season when it counted the most the Trojans rattled off eight straight wins, six of them coming at home.

Perhaps the biggest success of 2015 occurred on the pitch. The Troy soccer team finished the season with a 14-4-2 record, which was good enough for second place in the conference.

The Trojan softball team also saw success in 2015. Under the coaching of first year head coach Beth Mulllins, the Trojans finished the season with a 32-23 record and compiled a Sun Belt Conference record of 14-9. Charles Henderson graduate Becca Hartley finished her sophomore season as a second team all conference member as an outfielder. She led her team in homeruns with 10, including two big one’s against Florida State.