September 19, 2006
Valdosta -- The Valdosta State football team is off to a 2-0 start, thanks in no small part to their receiving corps.
Six-foot-three Derek Tharpe has had a lot to smile about this year, scoring almost half of VSU's touchdowns.
The Junior finding the endzone twice in the Blazers opener against Albany State, including the game winner with 23 seconds to go.
"I was real nervous," said Tharpe. "I got wide open, and Willie (Copeland) threw a great pass. I pretty much just had to look it in and catch the ball, but the whole time it was in the air I was thinking 'Please don't drop it'."
Tharpe joining the Blazers as a sophomore last season, and leading the team with 44 receptions.
"I went to Wake Forest for my first two years of school, and then unfortunately I got into a little mishap up there," says Tharpe. "I sat out for a 1 1/2 years, and got here last year, so I had a little rust I needed to get off."
Blazers head coach Chris Hatcher says, "Last season he was a little rusty. He'd been out of football a couple of years, but now he's getting into the flow of things."
Tharpe credits offseason work with his quick start this year, and is looking to become a big-time player for VSU this season.
"I'm pretty much the oldest receiver," says Tharpe, "so I just try to lead the best I can for the younger receivers, and teach them as much as I know from at the Division-I level."
Hatcher says, "He's on of our go-to guys, and we really expect this to be his breakout year."
Valdosta State will play its first conference game of the season this weekend at home against Arkansas Tech.
Kick-off for Saturday's game with the Wonder Boys is set for 1pm at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.