South Carolina State is Poised to Win MEAC Title in 2010
Written by Roscoe Nance Saturday, 07 August 2010 15:26
Don’t look for the Black College football landscape to change much in 2010 – if at all – from last season.
All four conference champions – South Carolina State in the MEAC, Prairie View in the SWAC, Tuskegee in SIAC and Fayetteville State in the CIAA – are well positioned to successfully defend their titles.
However, all four can look forward to being supremely tested.
Defending Black National champion South Carolina State is well-stocked to win its third consecutive MEAC title and league high 13th overall. Quarterback Malcolm Long, overshadowed by record-setting running back Will Ford in 2009, will be the hub of the offense. Long the preseason MEAC Offensive Player of they Year, passed for 2,502 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He will operate behind an experienced offensive line, which features first team preseason All-MEAC picks Johnny Culbreath – the 2009 MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year – Juavahr Nathan, Josh Harrison and Sam Timothy.
Coach Buddy Pough’s biggest offensive challenge is replacing Ford, the MEAC’s career rushing leader. Veterans Chris Massey, Chris Merrill and Rock King are vying for Ford’s spot. Freshman Charles Brown, one of the most highly high schools seniors in the country last fall, is also in the picture.
Defense has long been the Bulldogs’ strong suit. That should be the case again this season. Florida A&M again looks like South Carolina State’s biggest challenger. The Rattlers have a big hole to fill at quarterback, where Coach Joe Taylor must replace 2009 All-MEAC performer Curtis Pulley. Martin Ukpai is the leading candidate to replace Pulley. Ukpai, in his first collegiate start, amassed 284 yards total offense and led the Rattlers to a victory against arch-rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic.
Tailback Philip Sylvester and wide receiver Kevin Elliott give the Rattlers a pair of potent offensive weapons for Ukpai to work with.
Florida A&M’s inability to beat South Carolina State may be as much of a problem for the Rattlers as finding a quarterback. The Rattlers have lost seven consecutive games to the Bulldogs. Their Oct. 2 contest in Tallahassee could very well decide the conference championship.
Norfolk State is the only current football playing full-fledged member of the MEAC that has won a conference championship. That could very well change this season, thanks to a favorable schedule. South Carolina State, Florida A&M, North Carolina A&T and Morgan State figure to be their most difficult conference opponent. They play three of the four at Dick Price Stadium with South Carolina State being the only road game.
A favorable schedule isn’t all that the Spartans have going for them. DeAngelo Branch, a two-time second-team All-MEAC pick, returns for his senior season. Branch was third in the conference in rushing in 2009 with 922 yards and third in total touchdowns with 11.
North Carolina A&T was the surprise in the conference last season in Alonzo Lee’s first year as coach. The Aggies lived by their defense in 2009, ranking ninth in the Football Championship Subdivision against the pass, and they will be strong on that side of the ball again. Strong safety Justin Ferrell, who led the MEAC with six interceptions, and cornerback Quay Long, who had three, anchor a highly regarded secondary.
But they will need to improve their offensive production from a year ago – they averaged 16.6 points and 259 total yards a game – if they are to place higher than their predicted sixth place finish and contend for the championship.
Morgan State has consistently been in the upper half of the MEAC during Coach Donald Hill-Eley’s 10-year tenure. But the Bears haven’t been able to reach the championship level, and it doesn’t look like they will this season. They simply have too many holes to fill and not enough experienced players to fill them.
That is especially true on offense. Donovan Dickerson, the top returning quarterback, completed three of 10 passes for 29 yards and one touchdown in 2009. Domanick West, who rushed for 163 yards, is the top returning ball carrier.
The Bears also took a big hit on defense, losing linebacker George Howard and defensive end Justin Lawrence, a pair of All-Americans.
Delaware State has fallen on hard times since winning the MEAC championship in 2007. The Hornets suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 2008 and ’09. This could be another difficult year with just seven returning starters.
But there is hope. Starting quarterback Anthony Glaud, a senior, returns, and Coach Al Lavan hopes Glaud will pick up where he left off at the end of last season. Glaud completed 23 of 31 passes for 315 yards – the fifth-best single game total in school history in the season finale against Howard.
Junior Jaashawn Jones emerged as the leading rusher with 632 yards. After playing very little early in the season, he was pressed into action due to injuries, which left the Hornets with just two healthy backs for the last two games. Darius Jackson and Larrone Moore are speedy receivers, who combined for 74 catches in 2009. Jackson tied the school record with 11 receptions against Howard.
Delaware State’s defense will be a work in progress with just one starter, All-MEAC tackle Andre Carroll returning.
Bethune-Cookman enters a new era under Brian Jenkins, a former assistant at Rutgers. Jenkins, 39 replaces Alvin Wyatt, who in 13 seasons became the winningest coach in Wildcats’ history with a 77-45. Jenkins has dumped the Wyatt-bone, Wyatt’s self-named offense of choice in favor of a more balanced multiple offense, which better suits quarterback Matt Johnson’s skills.
Maurice Francois, the Wildcats’ leading rusher last season while sharing time at quarterback with Johnson, has moved to wide receiver. Androse Bell, who rushed for 219 yards in 2009, is counted on to be the Wildcats’ top ball carrier.
The Wildcats’ defense, which was ranked nationally in several categories, is easily their strong suit. Linebackers Reggie Sandilands and Ryan Lewis, defensive backs Arkee Smith and Michael Williams and lineman Ryan Davis returning, but they are not enough to keep the Wildcats from finishing near the bottom of the conference.
It figures to be another long season for Howard. The Bison have lost 20 straight MEAC games and won in conference play since midway through the 2007 season. They are 3-19 the last two seasons and have just two victories against FCS opponents the last three seasons.
Fourth-year coach Carey Bailey has revamped the Bison’s offense overhauled his coaching staff in an effort to turn things around. The Bison will run a version of the Wyatt-bone, an option offense that Bethune-Cookman used successfully for a number of years. Bailey brought in offensive coordinator Brad Bernard and receivers coach Raymond Gross from Bethune-Cookman to install the offense.
Howard’s success with the offense will depend on how well quarterback Jarad Dorsey, a first-year starter, adapts to it. Dorsey runs well, but it remains to be seen if he can run the option. It doesn’t help that either that Andra Williams, the Bison’s leading rusher in 2009, is no longer with the team. However, Dorsey will have a big-time pass catcher to work with in wide receiver Willie Carter, who caught 46 balls for 630 yards and five touchdowns a year ago.
North Carolina Central and Savannah State have joined the MEAC but are ineligible for the championship. That’s just as well since neither has enough talent to mount a serious challenge for the title at this point. North Carolina Central, in its fourth year in Division I after leaving Division II, has potential with 61 lettermen and 17 starters returning. Coach Mose Rison’s top priority is getting more offensive production after the Eagles averaged 18.9 points against Division I opponents during their transition period. They were 6-17 against those opponents.
Savannah State took its lumps while playing as a Division I independent the last decade. The Tigers haven’t had a winning record since 1998 when they were in the SIAC. Running back Justin Babb is a legitimate FCS talent. Babb was the workhorse of the Tigers’ offense. He rushed for 839 yards and six touchdowns in 2009, caught 24 passes for 231 yards and averaged 6.2 yards a carry.
Most Read Articles
From Our Partners
Check out the new promo video on YouTube!Boxtorow presents its newest promotional video
FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW Celebrates Black Music MonthFROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW celebrates Black Music Month in June. On June 7, 1979, then President Jimmy Carter made the decree that...
Williams leads Boxtorow All-American teamNorfolk State junior guard Pendarvis Williams headlines the Boxtorow Division I All-American team. Williams was voted the Boxtorow Division I National Player of the Year,...
Lindsey Hunter: From Jackson State star to NBA player to NBA head coachThe song by Drake "Started From The Bottom (now we here)", fits Phoenix Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. Almost. On March 3, 2010, Hunter...
Boxtorow's 2013 National Spring Football Road TourDWCommunications, LLC announces the 5th annual Boxtorow Spring Football Road Tour. This year the tour will stop in Durham, NC, Orangeburg, SC and Nashville,...