BASN’s Thursday Night HBCU Preview

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: September 3, 2008

FAMU TubasNEW YORK — Thursday night on ESPNU (7:30 p.m. ET), the defending MEAC champions from Delaware State will begin defense of their crown at Alumni Stadium in Dover against Florida A&M (1-0).

Last year, the Hornets earned the school’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Playoffs.

They also became just the third team in the 36-year history of the MEAC to post a perfect 8-0 record in conference play. Al Lavan’s group is riding a nine-game home-winning streak, dating back to a Oct. 14, 2006 (37-21 win over N.C. A&T) as they open the season against FAMU for the third time in the last four years.

The Rattlers, who have lost three straight to DSU, enter the game coming off a 30-20 win over Alabama State this past Saturday, giving Joe Taylor his 198th-career victory and first as the Rattler’s head coach.

Among DSU’s 13 returning starters are senior quarterback Vashon Winton, who has registered a 20-3 record in league action during his career (including the last three meetings vs. FAMU), and red shirt junior Josh Pope, who was named a First Team Preseason All-MEAC selection in July.

Pope is also the team’s top returning tackler (75) from a year ago. The Hornets also return four of last year’s five starters on the offensive line. Led by preseason All-MEAC selections, senior Adrian Brown and red shirt junior Nick Richmond, the DSU offensive line helped the team amass 1,671 yards on the ground while giving up only 11 sacks.

The Rattler offense is highlighted by 2007 MEAC Rookie-of-the-Year Phillip Sylvester at tailback. Sylvester gained 29 yards on nine carries, including one touchdown, and also accounted for three catches for 43 yards in the Rattlers’ win over Alabama State.

On defense, linebacker Vernon Wilder stands out. A 2007 All-MEAC Second Team selection, Wilder had six tackles and one forced fumble in the team’s opener.

Defensive back LeRoy Vann also made an impact in the 30-20 victory. He led all defenders with nine tackles, including a sack for a loss of 13 yards. He also returned a kickoff 99 yards to give FAMU a lead it would never give up.

The game will be the first of three ESPNU broadcasts for the Hornets this season with the next two telecast both coming in November. DSU will host South Carolina State on Saturday, the 1st and travel to Norfolk State two weeks later on the 15th.

Both contests are slated for 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.



Offensive Lineman of the Week:

OT Dwayne Frost, Bowie State University

Height: 6-6 Weight: 300 Class: Sr. Hometown: Largo, MD.

Frost played every down in Bowie State’s 51-26 rout of Cheyney. Many of the plays were run behind Frost’s left tackle position, as the Bulldogs rolled up 391 yards in total offense (224 rushing).

Receiver of the Week:

WR Dexter Manley, Elizabeth City State University

Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Class: Jr. Hometown: Chesapeake, VA.

Manley wowed the ECSU faithful in his Viking debut, catching 5 passes for an astounding 203 yards receiving and two touchdowns. His longest reception (and first score in a Viking uniform) of the day was a 62-yard touchdown to give ECSU a 20-7 lead with :09 seconds remaining in the first half.

Offensive Back of the Week:

QB Curtis Rich, Elizabeth City State University

Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 Class: Sr. Hometown: Fort Washington, MD.

Rich threw for more than half of his total passing yards (416 yards in 2007) from last season; with a career high 276 yards and three touchdown passes in the Vikings’ season opening win over Chowan University. His longest strike came in a one play drive with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Dexter Manley with :09 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s game.

Defensive Lineman of the Week:

DT Marcus Kennedy, Saint Augustine’s College

Height: 6-1 Weight: 290 Class: Sr. Hometown: Georgetown, SC.

Kennedy, an NFL prospect, recorded 9 tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery in a 14-7 upset win over nationally-ranked Catawba. Kennedy led a defense which held Catawba to 64 rushing yards.

Linebacker of the Week:

MLB Steven Stanback, Saint Augustine’s College

Height: 6-1 Weight: 220 Class: So. Hometown: Temple Hills, MD.

Stanback had a game-high 11 tackles and helped the Falcons hold nationally-ranked Catawba to 64 total rushing yards in a 14-7 upset win.

Defensive Back of the Week:

DB Lawyer Montgomery, Johnson C. Smith University

Height 6-2 Weight: 190 Class: So. Hometown: Buffalo, NY .

Montgomery led all defenders (both teams) with 12 total tackles (7 solo, 5 assisted). He also had the game’s single interception returned for 7 yards and one pass break-up vs. Division I opponent North Carolina A&T.

Rookie of the Week:

HB Tariq Jones, Bowie State University

Height 5-9 Weight: 198 Class: R-Fr Hometown: Baltimore, MD.

Jones rushed for a game-high 102 yards in his collegiate debut against Cheyney, carrying the ball 13 times and scoring one touchdown.

Specialty Player of the Week:

RS Clifton “Dominique” Budd, Bowie State University

Height: 5-9 Weight: 172 Class: Fr. Hometown: Silver Spring, MD.

Budd rolled up 225 All-Purpose Yards, which included 151 kickoff return yards, 22 punt return yards, 36 reception yards and 16 rushing yards.

Coach of the Week:

Michael Costa, Saint Augustine’s College

Costa directed the Falcons to a 14-7 upset win over nationally-ranked Catawba in the season opener. The Falcons are the first CIAA team to defeat Catawba. They also snapped Catawba’s 13-game win streak in home openers including nine straight against CIAA teams. This was the Falcons’ second win over a South Atlantic Conference team since re-instituting football in 2002.


Co-Offensive Players of the Week

Kevin Reese – Benedict (Jr, QB, 5-10, 210, Troup, GA)Reese produced 146 yards of total offense (80 passing, 66 rushing) to be named MVP in Tigers’ win over Morehouse in Palmetto Capital City Classic in Columbia.

Robert Taylor – Albany State (Sr, WR, 6-4, 180, Lakeland, FL)

Taylor had three receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns in Golden Rams season-opening victory over defending CIAA Champs, Shaw University. One of his TD receptions went for 30 yards and came with one second remaining in the 2nd quarter to gave ASU a 13-10 halftime lead.

Co-Defensive Players of the Week

Trenton Newton – Fort Valley State (Jr, LB, 6-1, 215, Lakeland, FL)

Horton had 13 tackles (5 solo), a tackle for loss and a QB hurry in Wildcats win over Clark Atlanta.

Derrick Addia – Kentucky State (Soph, DB, 6-4, 210, Houston, TX)

Harris recorded 12 tackles (6 solo) and three pass breakups in Thorobreds loss to Lane.

Newcomer of the Week

Ricardo Lockette – Fort Valley State (Jr, WR, 6-3, 200, Albany, GA)

Lockette accounted for 191 all purpose yards and scored two touchdowns against Clark Atlanta. He returned a kickoff 76 yards for a TD and caught six passes for 83 yards and another touchdown.

Co-Special Teams Players of the Week

Jamarion Robinson – Clark Atlanta (Fr, WR, 5-7, 162, Douglasville, GA)

Robinson had four returns for 117 yards including a 78-yard return for a touchdown. Averaged 29 yards per return.

Micah Streiff – Morehouse (Sr., P/K, 5-11, 175, Decatur, GA)

Streiff averaged 39.2 yards on four punts. Three of his punts landed inside the 10 yards line. He also kicked a 40-yard field goal.

Co-Offensive Linemen of the Week

Eric Martinear – Lane (Jr, T, 6-6, 335, Selma, AL)graded out at 92% anchoring line that helped produce 370 yards of total offense (223 pass, 147 rush)

Pedro Bennett – Albany State (Soph, G, 6-6, 390, Montgomery, AL)

Anchored offensive line and helped produce 198 yards in total offense (144 passing, 54 rushing). Only gave up one sack in 21 passing plays and averaged 3.2 yards per offensive play.



RB Donald Babers of Prairie View A&M; 5-9, 170 JR, Houston, TX

Babers carried 27 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-14 win over Texas Southern. Babers had TD runs of 9 and 6 yards in the first half in leading the Panthers to their 5th consecutive season opening win.


LB Marcellus Speaks, Jackson State; 6-2, 230 SR, Jackson, MS

Speaks posted 12 tackles (four for loss) and had two forced fumbles in the Tigers’ 17-13 loss to Hampton in the 4th MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Speaks was also named Jackson State’s Most Outstanding Player of the Game.


RS Clarence Cotten, Mississippi Valley..5-10, 190 SR D’Iberville, MS

Cotten averaged 18.5 yards on four punt returns in Delta Devils’ 38-0 win over Texas College. He had punt returns of 16, 20, 23, and 15 yards. Cotten’s 16 and 23-yard returns set up a pair of touchdowns.


RB Kenneth Batiste, Grambling St….5-9, 175 R-Freshman, Lafayette, LA

Batiste caught six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown in the Tigers’ season-opening loss at Nevada. Batiste led all players in receiving yards and had Grambling’s longest play, a 59-yard reception in the third quarter.


Running backs Michael Ferguson of North Carolina A&T State and DeAngelo Branche of Norfolk State were selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Co-Offensive Players of the Week while Andre Thornton, also of N.C. A&T State, earned the Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Dwight Fluker-Berry of Norfolk State was named Rookie of the Week, while Enoch Cohen of North Carolina A&T State and LeRoy Vann of Florida A&M earned the Offensive Lineman and Special Teams Player of the Week accolades.

Ferguson (RB, 5-11, 211, Sr., Durham, NC) averaged 6.7 yards per carry in a, 44-12, win over Johnson C. Smith (NCAA D-II) on Saturday. Ferguson carried the ball 15 times and recorded 100 yards with two touchdowns to help the Aggies snap a 27-game losing streak. The performance was his eighth career 100-yard rushing performance for Ferguson.

Branche (RB, 5-11, 200, r-So., Norfolk, Va.) scored a career-high 3 TDs as the Spartans defeated the Virginia State Trojans, 47-7, in the Labor Day Classic. Branche ran the ball 20 times for 92 yards in the team’s victory.

Thorton (LB, 6-3, 230, Jr., Charlotte, NC) posted a solid defensive effort as he tallied 11 tackles, three solo, in the Aggies season opening win. He also recorded two breakups and one recovered fumble.

Fluker-Berry (DB, 6-1, 205, r-So., Miami, Fla.) collected four tackles, one for a loss, in the Spartans victory over the Trojans. Fluker-Berry, who red-shirted as a freshman, also forced a fumble which was recovered by a teammate and returned for a defensive touchdown.

Cohen (RT, 6-4, 285, So., Winston-Salem, NC) anchored the Aggies offense that rushed for 291 yards and posted 448 total offensive yards against JCSU. He also had seven pancake blocks and received a 95-percent grade on his assignments.

Vann (DB, 5-9, 185, Jr., Tampa, Fla.) recorded a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Rattlers 30-20 victory over the Alabama State Hornets.


Ohio Valley

Tennessee State wide receiver, JaJuan Spillman, a 5-foot-8 Junior from Louisville, KY, was named the OVC’s “Newcomer of the Week” for his play against Alabama A&M on 8/30/08. In his Tennessee State debut, Spillman caught a 65-yard touchdown pass and returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown as the Tigers went on the road to top rival Alabama A&M 34-13 on Saturday. A University of Louisville transfer, Spillman had only four total touches on the night, but netted those two touchdowns and 209 all-purpose yards. In all, he returned three kickoffs for 144 yards. His kick return touchdown put TSU on top for good in the second quarter.