By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
NCAA Division I football officially kicked off last weekend and several Bahamian players had active season debuts for their respective universities.
Chris Ferguson got the first start of his collegiate career for the Cincinnati Bearcats and Mavin Saunders got his first score of any kind as he suited up for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Ferguson, a 6’5” 303-pound senior offensive lineman won the starting job at right tackle and the Bearcats spoiled Chip Kelly’s coaching debut at UCLA by defeating the Bruins 26-17 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California Saturday night.
Ferguson and the offensive line led the Bearcats to 304 total yards from scrimmage, 110 passing, and 194 rushing.
In week two, the Bearcats will take on Miami (Ohio) in an inter-state rivalry with the “Victory Bell” on the line, Saturday, September 8 at home at Paul Brown Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 pm and the game will be broadcasted live by ESPN3.
Ferguson was one of 10 members of the Bearcats football team to earn his degree (Criminal Justice) last April.
As a freshman, he was initially recruited as three-star recruit on the defensive line, following his senior season at Lake Nona High School in Orlando, Florida when he recorded 17 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
After a redshirt true freshman season, he shifted to the offensive line but did not see playing time in the 2015-17 seasons.
Saunders had two receptions for 10 yards in an addition to a two-point conversion, but his Jayhawks suffered a week one upset in a 26-23 overtime loss to Nicholls State of the FCS.
The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the top level of collegiate football. The FBS is the most competitive subdivision of NCAA Division I, which itself consists of the largest and most competitive schools in the NCAA. The Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) was formerly known as Division I-AA.
In just one game, he surpassed his numbers from last season at Florida State, but the Jayhawks programmes continued its struggles from recent seasons.
Saunders did not record a reception last season and his Seminole stats for his career included 16 receptions for 234 yards.
Kansas football’s fourth-quarter comeback in the 2018 season opener was cut short by Nicholls in the final minutes of regulation as the Colonels forced overtime and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Jayhawks receiver Steven Sims completed a reverse pass to Saunders for the successful conversion to give Kansas a 20-17 lead with 4:26 left to play in regulation.
Saunders has already been named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award - doled out to the top tight end in all of collegiate football.
The 6’6”, 258-pound tight end finished his sophomore season with 10 receptions for 182 yards - both career highs. As a redshirt freshman, he totaled six receptions for 52 yards.
Kansas travels to Central Michigan on Saturday for its only non-conference road game. The Jayhawks haven’t won a game on the road since Sept. 9, 2009.