QB derby is fast becoming rite of spring at Bowie State

April 16, 1991|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Evening Sun Staff

Finding a quarterback has become an annual ritual during spring football practice at Bowie State, and 1991 is no different.

The Bulldogs went to the NCAA Division II tournament in 1988 and won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in '89, and before both seasons quarterback Henry Frazier emerged from more talented contenders to lead the Bulldogs.

Last spring, the quarterback job was handed to Richard Thomas, a Kent County product who had spent the previous three seasons as an understudy. Many things went wrong during Bowie State's slide to a 3-6 record in 1990, but coach Sanders Shiver made it clear early he wasn't pleased with Thomas' performance, as cornerback Don Janey switched sides midway through the season and guided the Bulldogs to two of those wins.

"We groomed Richard [Thomas] for three years, and he should have been the guy," Shiver said. "This year [1990] and next, we expected him to be a solid performer, but maybe we should have given him more reps those earlier years.

"Richard has the talent, but he has to show more fortitude. He fell on his shoulder in his third game and never seemed to fully recover. Other than quarterback, personnel wasn't a problem last season, and it's something we've got to solidify this year."

In between hitting .394 and leading the Bowie State baseball team in three batting and two pitching categories, Thomas is dealing with several quarterback challengers, but none has any experience to speak of.

Keno Fitzpatrick, from Pittsburgh, didn't play as a freshman because he didn't meet academic requirements. Sherrod Jenkins, from Wilde Lake High, is a transfer from Millersville University. Shiver said Jenkins has the best arm. New Yorker Jay Brown transferred in from Cheyney State last year. Freshman Charlie McCafferey stood and watched last fall.

The main job for the winner will be handing the ball off to halfback Butch Wilson, a senior-to-be who gained more than 900 yards last fall. He has more than 1,700 in his career, and is within 700 yards of the Bowie State career record.

There are other areas that please Shiver, who will have more than 60 players in spring practice through April 27. There are at least eight juniors-to-be who started as freshmen in the 1989 CIAA title game, but many experienced a sophomore slump in 1990. Next season's juniors include the linebacking trio of Ed Gregory, Paul Garrett and John Morgan, as well as most of the offensive line.

"We had 15 freshmen who started at one time or another in 1989," Shiver said. "They celebrated too much in 1990. Hopefully, they've come back to reality."

The most exciting development this year was the groundbreaking for a new stadium in February. Shiver he hopes the Bulldogs can play their Oct. 26 homecoming game against American International in the new facility. It will include an eight-lane track, and the seating capacity, to be determined, could be anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000.

"For years, we were told a new stadium was coming, and now it's close to being a reality," Shiver said.

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