Both Morgan State’s Donald Hill-Eley and North Carolina A&T’s Rod Broadway know that a true assessment of where their teams stand will start on Thursday night in Greensboro. After playing non-FCS opponents in their last two games, the longtime MEAC foes will open up conference play in front of a national audience as ESPNU will broadcast live from Aggie Stadium.
After an opening week loss to Coastal Carolina, the Aggies (2-1) spent their last two weeks pummeling Division II opponents. First there was a 77-0 shellacking of West Virginia State and then a 40-7 win over Virginia Union of Lynchburg.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction, but I don’t think the last two games are a good gauge of where we are as a football team,” Broadway said during his weekly teleconference. “I think we’ll have a lot more answers after this game than we have right now on the direction we’re moving and what we’ll need to get done as far as the football team is concern.”
Conversely, the Bears (2-1) are coming off back-to-back defeats at the hands of Football Bowl Subdivision Opponents Buffalo and Akron. Despite his team’s 66-6 loss to Akron the last time his team took the field, Hill-Eley had plenty of positives to draw upon heading into Thursday’s game.
“They don’t quit. These young men find a way to keep fighting,” he said. “We went against Buffalo and were able to put up 34 points against an FBS team that was very physical and wanted to dominate us. We played Akron good for a half.”
The two teams have had ten days to recover since their last games. The coaches both said that break proved beneficial for their teams.
‘We had some bruises and lumps and we needed to recover,” Hill-Eley said. “Recovery is just as important as preparation.”
When asked if it was more difficult to prepare for a team that had a few extra days of rest, Broadway said the fact that both teams had identical made the opponents time between games a moot point.
“We’re in the same boat. I don’t think that the advantage is to anyone in this situation,” he said. “We had an opportunity to work and to hopefully get better during the week.”
Simply put, both coaches are looking forward to seeing where their teams stand underneath the bright lights of Aggie Stadium for a rare Thursday night game.
“Looking at that team, they can run the ball well, throw the ball well and they have a very staunch defense,” Hill-Eley said. “Everything that I just said is paper work, but Thursday night at 7:30, everything is going to be tested.”
The rare opportunity to play in front of a national audience was obviously a bonus in Broadway’s mind.
“We’re looking forward to playing again,” Broadway said. “I think our guys are excited about playing, we’re excited about playing as the game is going to be played on TV and hopefully we’ll have a good showing on TV.”
Morgan State’s hopes for climbing back to the top of the MEAC’s basketball elite have already taken a hit, and it’s only September. CBSSports.com reports that Daryl Traynham, a former UMASS starter who transferred to the school, will be ineligible for the 2012-13 season. According to the report, Morgan coach Todd Bozeman revealed Traynham failed to obtain his Associates of Arts Degree from junior college this past summer.
The 5’9 point guard played last season at Palm Beach State where he averaged 11 points, six assists and three steals per game.
Morgan State has gone 26-34 in the past two seasons after claiming three-straight MEAC titles from 2008-2010. The Bears finished 9-20 last year.
“He’s was what the doctor ordered for us,” Bozeman told CBS Sports earlier Thursday. “We’ll have to adjust a little bit how we want to play.”
This is the fourth in a series of posts ranking the greatest HBCU to NFL players, by position. Only players whose college careers started after 1970 were considered.
If ever there was an NFL Hall of Famer who continually beat the odds, it’s Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe grew up poor, raised by his maternal grandmother in Snellville, Georgia. He struggled academically and lived in the shadow of his older brother, Sterling, who was a football standout. While his older brother Sterling went on to play big-time college football at the University of South Carolina, Sharpe ended up playing his college ball at nearby Savannah State. Sharpe vividly recalled his transition to SSU during his 2011 Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech.
“When I left my grandmother’s home in 1986 headed to Savannah State with two brown grocery bags filled with my belongings, nothing was going to keep me from realizing my dreams. When people told me I wasn’t going to make it, I listened to the one person who told me I was, me.”
Sharpe was a standout at SSU, earning All-SIAC honors his final three years and Division 2 All-America honors in his senior year.
Still, success on the professional level seemed like a long-shot for Sharpe. While his brother was quickly becoming a superstar with the Green Bay Packers, the younger Sharpe waited until the seventh round of the 1990 NFL draft before being selected by the Denver Broncos. Sharpe found himself trying to transition from small-school college receiver to professional tight end. According to Sharpe, he almost failed to make the cut for the Broncos his rookie season.
“I played on special teams and I got 20 offensive plays, had 12 knock down blocks. I’m not proud to say I was cutting everything that moves. When they went back into the room on Saturday, my name was off the board. I made it.”
Sharpe would go on to do more than just make the team. He would go on to set a new standard for which all tight ends would be set against. Sharpe was quarterback John Elway’s most consistent target in the 1990s and one of the most dangerous weapons in the league during his era. By the time Sharpe retired 14 seasons later, he owned his positions’ record for receptions (815), yards (10,060) and touchdowns (62), all of which have been broken by Tony Gonzales. Sharpe also won three Super Bowl rings in his career, two with Denver (97-98) and one with Baltimore (2001).
Runner Up: Jimmy Giles-Alcorn State
The phrase “ahead of his time” is often overused in sports, but not when referencing Jimmie Giles. The 6’3 tight end from Alcorn State was picked in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. At that time, most tight ends were little more than blockers who caught a pass or two every few games. Giles, too, was used in this manner for his first few seasons.
That changed in 1979 when he and former Grambling QB Doug Williams teamed up to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship game in just the team’s fourth season. Giles caught 40 passes and found the endzone seven times. Unlike most tight ends of that era, Giles was a serious deep threat, averaging almost 15 yards per catch for his career. Giles finished with 350 receptions, 5,084 yards and 50 touchdowns upon his retirement following the 1989 season. One has to wonder how much those numbers would have been improved if he had been more heavily utilized during his prime years in Tampa Bay.
Giles, like Williams, had problems with Tampa Bay management and coaching staff. This was reflected in his stats, which show a dip from 1982-1984, when he should have been hitting his prime. He rebounded in 1985 to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career after catching 43 passes and 8 touchdowns with an amazing average of 15.7 yards per catch.
“He could have been one of the all-time best tight ends, if they would have used him more,” said former Buc teammate Gerald Carter.
Honorable Mention: Ben Coates-Livingstone
Like many HBCU to NFL stars, Ben Coates took an unconventional route to the NFL. The South Carolina native didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. While at Livingstone, Coates was a multi-sport athlete who broke records and impressed scouts enough to be picked by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft.
Coates career really took off when the Pats drafted QB Drew Bledsoe. From 1993, Bledsoe’s rookie year, to 1998, Coates never recorded less than 50 catches or 6 touchdown receptions. The five-time Pro-Bowler finished his career in 2000, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
For his career, Coates caught 499 passes for 5,555 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Pre-1970: Raymond Chester-Morgan State
In the 1960s, there were few better small schools to find unheralded talent than the CIAA’s Morgan State. First there was running back LeRoy Kelly. Then came linebacker Willie Lanier. So by the time Raymond Chester finished up his career in Baltimore, he was no secret. The Oakland Raiders picked him in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1970 and he immediately paid dividends, catching 43 passes in his rookie season. Chester was a valuable member of Raider squads of the 1970s, winning two Super Bowls with the team. He finished his career with 364 receptions, 5,014 yards and 48 touchdowns.
BRONX, N.Y. – The New York Urban League, in conjunction with the New York Yankees, will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 2 p.m. promoting this year’s Urban League Football Classic, between Hampton University and Morgan State.
Pirates head coach Donovan Rose, in his fourth season at the helm, will be attendance, along with representatives from the Yankees, the New York Urban League, and Morgan State.
The press conference will be streamed live at www.yankees.com.
This year’s classic marks the games return to New York City. The game has been played in Giant Stadium since 1988. This year’s game will take place on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Yankee Stadium.
In addition to Wednesday’s press conference, Rose and other representatives will take part in a ceremony prior to the Yankees’ game against the Texas Rangers at 7:05 p.m.
To learn more about the Urban League Football Classic, visit www.myulfootballclassic.com.
This is the second in a series of posts highlighting the best NFL players produced by HBCUs at each position. For most positions, we will only consider players who began their college careers after 1970.
Folks may argue whether or not Walter Payton is the best NFL running back ever. The man he stole the league’s all-time rushing record from, Jim Brown, played just nine NFL seasons. The man who took the title from him, Emmitt Smith played 14 seasons and won three championships. Barry Sanders may have had more spectacular runs. But when it comes to backs produced by HBCUs, Walter Payton stands head and shoulders above his peers.
Payton’s collegiate career came at a time where African-Americans were few and far between in the Southeastern Conference. Most teams only had a handful of Black players, if any. Throw in the fact that the 5’10 running back only played two years of high school football, and him landing at Jackson State makes plenty of sense.
Despite his light recruitment, it didn’t take long for Sweetness to make his presence felt around the SWAC and nationwide. Playing with future pros like Robert Brazile, Jackie Slater and his older brother Eddie, Payton re-wrote the history books, breaking the NCAA’s scoring record by rushing for 65 touchdowns in his four seasons. He finished with over 3,500 yards in his career, running for over 6 yards per carry. He also finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Award.
Payton was drafted no. 4 overall by the Chicago Bears and continued to defy the odds his entire pro career. He was a 9-time Pro-Bowl participant, 9-time All-Pro Selection, broke Jim Brown’s career rushing record and capped off his career with a Super Bowl following the 1985 season.
Runner Up: LeRoy Kelly-Morgan State
It’s never easy replacing a legend, and in the NFL there is no bigger legend than Jim Brown. When the Cleveland Browns drafted the Morgan State runner in the eight round of the 1964 NFL Draft they probably figured he’d eventually be Brown’s successor, but no one could have realized it would have come so soon. One season removed from the Brown’s 1964 NFL Title, Brown abruptly retired, leaving Kelly as the featured back. Kelly made the transition from the CIAA to NFL look easy, making the first of six Pro-Bowl appearances, leading the league in rushing yards in both ’67 and ’68 and leading touchdowns from 66-68.
Kelly was one of the first great all-around backs of the NFL. He finished his career with over 12,000 yards, including 7, 274 rushing yards. He also retired with 90 touchdowns and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
Notable: Willie Galimore-FAMU
In the pantheon of NFL running backs, Galimore’s numbers don’t look that impressive. He recorded 2,985 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in 7 NFL seasons, never gaining 1,000 yards. But this NFL films video featuring Galimore tells everything you need to know about legendary coach Jake Gaither’s star back.
Norfolk State won its first ever MEAC Football championship last year, after joining the conference back in 1997. Now, it finds itself in the unfamiliar position of being the favorite to wear the conference’s crown.
The MEAC released the results of its preseason poll of conference coaches and SIDs at the annual media day on Friday, with the Spartans receiving 11 first-place votes. South Carolina State was second, receiving four first-place votes. Also receiving one first-place vote was Hampton, who along with North Carolina A&T, is ineligible for the NCAA Bowl Subdivison Playoffs, should they win the regular season title.
Florida A&M, picked to finish fourth in the conference, placed five players on the preseason version of the All-Conference first team, as did Norfolk State. North Carolina A&T running back Mike Mayhew and Howard linebacker Keith Pough are the preseason selections for Offensive and Defensive Player of The Year awards.
Norfolk State will look to repeat as champions despite the loss quarterback Chris Walley and seven starters from last season’s squad that held opponents to just 17 points per game in route to a 9-3 (7-1 MEAC) record.
MEAC FOOTBALL PRESEAON POLL
(Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
1. Norfolk State
2. South Carolina State
4. Florida A&M
6. North Carolina A&T
7. Morgan State
9. North Carolina Central
10. Delaware State
11. Savannah State
QB -Greg McGhee, Howard, So.
RB – Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
RB – Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
WR – Xavier Boyce, Norfolk State, Sr.
WR – Tavis Tarpley, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Joeseph Hawkins, Norfolk State, Sr.
C – Michael Kay, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Steven Robinson, Florida A&M, Sr.
OL – Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Terrence Hackney, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
OL – Cory Gwinner, Howard, Sr.
DL – Tony Mashburn, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
DL – Padric Scott, Florida A&M, Sr.
DL – Richard, Ndubueze, Morgan State Sr.
DL – Mathhew Davis, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Keith Pough, Howard, Sr.
LB – Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
LB – D’Vonte Grant, North Carolina A&T, So.
DB – John Ojo, Florida A&M, Sr.
DB – DeVontae Johnson, Florida A&M, So.
DB – Travis Crosby, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
DB – D.J. Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
First-Team Special Teams
PK – Everett Goldberg, Norfolk State, Sr.
P – Brandon Holdren, Florida A&M, Sr.
RS – Geovonie Irvin, North Carolina Central, Sr.
QB – Damien Fleming, Florida A&M, So.
RB – Antwon Chisholm, Hampton, Jr.
RB – Travis Davidson, Morgan State, Sr.
WR – Eddie Poole, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
WR – Justin Wilson, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Kris Drummond, Savannah State, So.
C – Tristan Bellamy, South Carolina State, So.
C – Vincent Harper, Hampton, Jr.
OL – Sam Hammond, South Carolina State, Sr.
OL – Nathan Isles, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
OL – Cameron Williams, Norfolk State, Jr.
OL – Marquell Rozier, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
DL – Xavier Proctor, North Carolina Central, Sr.
DL – Leon Smith, South Carolina State, Sr.
DL – Herold Love III, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
DL – Brandon Young, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
LB – Delbert Tyler, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Joe Thomas, South Carolina State, Jr.
LB – Lyndell Gibson, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Justin Blake, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Kenneth Ridley, Morgan State, Jr.
DB – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
DB – DeCarlos Knight, Howard, Sr.
Second-Team Special Teams
PK – Taureab Durham, Hampton, Sr.
P – Jordan Stovall, Hampton, Jr.
RS – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
Summer time is usually a quiet affair in Black College Football circles. Even the Division I HBCU teams that populate the MEAC and SWAC Conferences receive minimal coverage until the weeks preceding the first game of the season. So when news like last week’s APR Sanctions on Hampton, North Carolina A&T and Texas Southern comes around, it’s understandable that the reporters covering these schools milk them for all their worth.
Triangle Tribune Sports Editor Bonitta Best’s column “Anybody but Carolina, er, Hampton” has definitely got the internet buzzing. Her column centered around the reaction of some in the HBCU community regarding Hampton University’s sanctions.
“The response mostly went along these lines: “Serves them right!” “That’s what you get when you look down your nose at everybody else.”
Best attempted the rest of the conference’s attitude towards the university with the anti-North Carolina attitude that exists in many, if not all other schools in the ACC. Best credits a few well-worn Hampton stereotypes as well as envy over their smooth transition from the CIAA to the MEAC as reasons for this attitude.
While I see where she was going with this, I’d say the comparison is quite a stretch. For one, Hampton hasn’t even been in the MEAC for twenty years yet. During that time they’ve won five MEAC titles, two of which they shared. They’ve also only won two basketball titles. Impressive, but Carolina-like? I’m not buying it. Then there is the little matter of NCAA Tourney wins. North Carolina leads that category 108 to 1. Respectfully, about the only thing the two schools have in common is their recent trouble with the NCAA.
During my time covering the MEAC (2006-2009) as a student reporter for the college newspaper, Hampton, along with South Carolina State were definitely the teams to beat in the conference football-wise. Beating them in 2007 was one of the more memorable games I watched at WSSU, but that was largely because they were the defending champs and we were the upstarts. The crowd stormed on the field and Bowman-Gray was really rocking. But there were definitely seats available for that game.
In my opinion, if you really want to compare Hampton to an ACC team, I think it would have to be Duke. They are both private schools in conferences made up of predominantly public schools. Generally speaking, the students of both schools tend to be more well off than their competition. And they both wear basically the same shade of blue.
The real reason why no MEAC team will reach hate levels reserved for Carolina and Duke is the lack of TV exposure. Much of the hate for those programs is built on the fact that they are always on TV. The only time most MEAC schools are seen on TV in football or hoops, they’re getting beaten by top-notch teams in money games. Of course there’s the occasional Thursday night Football game in the fall, but those are few and far between for most teams.
Think about it, the MEAC stretches from Delaware to Florida. It works for the ACC because they’ve got a huge TV contract. But the rivalries in the MEAC are based largely on location. Bethune Cookman and FAMU in Florida, North Carolina A&T and NCCU in North Carolina, Morgan and Coppin in Baltimore. Hampton has a natural rival in Norfolk State and a peer institution in fellow private school Howard a few hours up the road in D.C.
Until the conference as a whole can up its’ profile, the chances of developing a powerhouse program that inspires an ungodly level of envy and hate are best left on paper. Norfolk State’s victory over Missouri this spring was a nice start, but it has to become a trend and not a once-a-decade flicker.
A month ago a Pro-Am game in Baltimore on the campus of Morgan State, made big waves on ESPN since it featured NBA pros like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Taking advantage of the NBA Lockout, Winston-Salem State University has scheduled a benefit game, featuring NBA stars, to raise money for scholarships.
Players scheduled to compete in the October 1st game, which coincides’ with the university’s annual homecoming festivities, include James, Anthony and Durant as well as North Carolina Natives Chris Paul and John Wall. You may remember that Paul played his college ball at Wake Forest-but his parents both graduated from WSSU.
Tickets start at $40 and courtside seats at the C.E. Gaines Center will go for $1,000 with discount prices for students.