Another familiar face is joining the staff of new East Tennessee State football coach Carl Torbush.
Billy Taylor, a Morristown native who played and coached at the university, is reportedly leaving Tennessee Tech, where he was the defensive coordinator the last five years. He and former Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee standout Teddy Gaines will officially be named to Torbush’s staff within days, becoming his first assistants.
Torbush and athletic director Richard Sander were attending the Southern Conference football rouser in Spartanburg, S.C., on Wednesday.
Taylor, 48, was an outside linebacker and team captain of the Bucs his senior season, in 1987. He went on to coach for Paul Hamilton at his alma mater from 1997 until the program was dropped in 2003, and was defensive coordinator the last two seasons.
He has also coached at Wofford and Chattanooga.
Add John Walton to the list of players who won’t be returning to the East Tennessee State basketball team this fall.
The junior forward has decided to transfer to Troy and has been dropped from the ETSU roster. Walton and coach Murry Bartow, who is on the road recruiting, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Long and athletic at 6-7 and 200 pounds, Walton averaged 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds as a sophomore for the Bucs. He played in all 32 games, starting 17 of them, and averaged 22 minutes a game.
With a .511 shooting percentage, he was the only player on the team to make at least half of his field-goal attempts.
The Memphis native is the third underclassman who has left the Bucs after a 10-22 season, joining freshman guards Mario Stramaglia and Yunio Barrueta.
Former ETSU point guard Adam Sollazzo will be playing in Italy this season.
Sollazzo has signed with Ravenna of the Italian League, becoming the first foreign player in the team’s history but one with family ties to the country. His grandparents were Italian immigrants.
“Italy is a special place in my heart,” Sollazzo said in an announcement on the Basket Ravenna website. “The idea of being able to play in a nation that has a special meaning has impressed me from the beginning.”
Sollazzo, a Tampa, Fla., native, spent his first season of pro basketball in Germany, where he averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Leipzig.
He was a first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference performer for the Bucs as a senior in 2011-12.
New women’s coach Brittney Ezell didn’t have much time to size up her team before getting back on the recruiting trail, but she liked what she saw.
The Lady Bucs are together on campus for the final session of summer school.
“You can see they want to get better,” Ezell said Wednesday from Atlanta. “We had over a week together and were able to see what kind of motors the players have and the energy they came to campus with. I was actually pleasantly surprised.”
While all the players are “trying to buy in,” said Ezell, she has been impressed by a few of the veterans, in particular senior guard Shawn Randall.
“She’s been on campus the entire summer and really stepped forward,” said Ezell. “She’s trying to assert herself, and it’s very good to see.”
The coach also mentioned junior guard Cara Bowling of Elizabethton and junior forward Maria Bond.
“Maria Bond has a fantastic physique; she’s really built for this,” said Ezell. “Getting her healthy is the key.”
That’s also a prime concern for senior forward Destiny Mitchell, who has been the team’s best player for much of her career but has also been plagued by injuries. Ezell wants to make sure Mitchell is highly motivated for her last season.
“I’ve said to her, ‘What do you want? Do you want to be player of the year? Do you want to be first team?” said Ezell. “I told her, ‘I can’t pat you on the back for playing hard, because that’s expected. I can pat you on the back for going above and beyond.’”
Mitchell averaged 11.0 points and 8.1 rebounds as a junior — the lowest totals of her career.
ETSU first baseman Clinton Freeman has been named to the Cape Cod League all-star team.
Playing for the Bourne Braves, the left-hander is hitting .321 with 13 RBI, and has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games. He has also struck out four batters in two innings of relief on the mound.
The Braves are sending five players to the all-star game Saturday in South Yarmouth, Mass.
Freeman, a rising senior, led the Bucs with a .335 batting average, 10 home runs and 57 RBI this spring.