Morgan State's James Dozier is an exception to the rule that award-winners come from outstanding teams.
Dozier, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior defensive end from Randallstown, was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference yesterday. His statistics for the Bears (1-10) were as impressive as his size. He led the conference in sacks with 13 and totaled 70 tackles, seven blocked kicks and six fumble recoveries.
Others on the defensive first team included Baltimore seniors Malcolm Showell (Dunbar), a 6-6, 250-pound lineman for Delaware State, and Kenneth Newsome (City College), a 6-2, 235-pound linebacker for Howard.
Dozier was named on four of the 14 ballots by head coaches and sports information directors, edging Bethune-Cookman senior linebacker Cedric McKinnon, who was picked on three.
Dozier spent a year in the Marine Corps between high school and college, then developed into a team leader as a four-year starter for the Bears at defensive end and linebacker.
With Morgan's defense on the field for much more than half of every game, the Bears were outscored by an average of 37-7.
The highlight of the season came in the finale, in which Morgan State defeated Division II Cheyney State, 2-0. The points came on a safety when Dozier blocked a punt out of the Cheyney end zone.
"In the years to come, the only game I'll think about will be Cheyney," Dozier said yesterday. "Besides the blocked punt, I recovered four fumbles."
Dozier, 23, is a biology major who, after this school year, likely will need one more semester to graduate. As a result of required afternoon labs, he was able to practice only two days a week.
"They gave the award to me, but I'm taking it in the name of the entire defensive unit," Dozier said. "When you go through 1-10 and losing that badly, you can't help but develop a bond with your teammates. Guys like [defensive backs] Eddie Hill and Robert Johnson and [linebacker] Reno Lucas and [lineman] Matthew Steeple should have gotten more recognition."