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Defending Black College Football Champs Sit Atop SBN’s Preseason Top 10 Poll
Hampton’s Joe Taylor NEW HAVEN, Ct.
Hampton’s Joe Taylor
NEW HAVEN, Ct.— They ended 2004 as the best black college football team in the land. Now with the 2005 season set to begin later this week (Benedict at Morehouse, Thursday night on ESPNU), the Hampton Pirates are still on top.
Coach Joe Taylor’s squad sits atop the SBN Preseason Black College Football Poll, which was released on August 18th. Hampton, who shared the MEAC crown with South Carolina State last year, are also ranked No. 13 in The Sports Network’s Division I-AA Top 25 Preseason Poll.
The Bulldogs are ranked third in the SBN poll, just behind defending SIAC champion Albany State. SWAC champion Alabama State and Tuskegee round out the first five.
The Hornets will open the season on September 3rd against S.C. State in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge at Birmingham. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The Pirates, who received 16 first-place votes, return 17 starters from last year’s 10-2 (6-1 in the MEAC) including one of college football’s most dynamic running tandems in junior Alonzo Coleman (1,133 yards, 13 TDs) and senior Ardell Daniels (1,098 yards, 15 TDs).
Rounding out the five remaining spots of the poll: SWAC rivals Southern and Grambling State come in at No. 6 and No. 7. Defending CIAA champion Shaw sits at No. 8, followed by Bethune-Cookman and N.C. Central at No. 10.
The Tigers (6-5, 3-4 SWAC West) will welcome back record-setting QB Bruce Eugene to the lineup. The New Orleans native saw his 2004 season abruptly end due to a knee injury in GSU’s opener at Alcorn State.
Melvin Spears’ squad will again open the season at Alcorn on Sept. 3rd. The Jaguars (8-4, 6-1 CIAA West) open on the road that same day at McNeese State. The two SWAC rivals will meet each other on Thanksgiving Weekend in the Bayou Classic at the Superdome in November.
Both the SIAC and CIAA will begin play this week’s abbreviated HBCU grid schedule this Saturday. The Golden Rams (11-1, 8-0) will open on the road against Miles College. The Golden Tigers (10-2, 7-1), the consensus pick to dethrone ASU open at home against Stillman.
Only a last second Hail Mary pass (against Albany State) and a 2-point loss in The Pioneer Bowl kept the Golden Tigers from going 12-0 in 2004. Tuskegee will visit ASU on October 1st in a game that should have a big bearing on who will take home the SIAC crown.
In CIAA play, Shaw will host perennial Division II Carson-Newman in their season opener Saturday. The Bears (10-2, 5-2 CIAA West) won their first league crown since 1947 last year and also defeated Tuskegee in the Pioneer Bowl.
One of the nation’s top defenses in 2004, the Bears return CB Shawn Woodard, FS Torrance Nunnally and DE David Coleman to this year’s squad. All three players were First Team All-CIAA preseason selections.
Also Saturday, N.C. Central (8-2, 6-1 CIAA West) will host Edward Waters in their season opener. The Eagles will be led by 2004 CIAA Player of The Year, QB Adrian Warren. The senior from Raleigh led the conference in passing yards (1,746) and TD passes (20) and passing efficiency.