There are only 25 returnees on the Bowie State football team, and coach Sanders Shiver expects many of the veterans to lend a hand in areas outside their expertise.
During spring practice, for instance, Mike Motta played free safety, strong safety, cornerback and even a little outside linebacker.
Motta also found the time to play some baseball for the Bulldogs, and his first collegiate season was a huge success. His .494 batting average ranked No. 1 among the nation's Division II players, and the junior from Meade High would like his numbers for fall 1991 to be as good as those he posted last spring.
A 20-year-old who has filled out to 6 feet and 205 pounds, Motta played left cornerback and strong safety in 1990, when Bowie State slumped to a 3-6 record. He was in on 27 tackles, broke up four passes and intercepted another, but like all of his teammates, needed to do more.
Besides Motta, the Bulldogs return six other defensive starters, including a stellar linebacking crew of senior Robert Anderson and juniors Ed Gregory and Paul Garrett. If all are as mentally up as Motta, last year's average of 306.9 yards allowed per game will prove to be an aberration.
"I know we can make the jump and get back to where we were in 1989," Motta said, referring to a 7-3-1 campaign in which Bowie State won its first and only Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. "We went into 1990 out of shape, and ended up as the most penalized team in the nation. That's going to change this year."
Motta wasn't in such a positive mood when he arrived at Bowie VTC State two years ago. At Meade, he was a varsity starter in both football and baseball as a sophomore and junior, but a knee injury ruined his senior year. Reconstructive surgery caused him to miss all of football that year, and in the last of his four varsity baseball seasons, his average dipped down to the .320s.
A football reserve as a freshman whose biggest contribution was an interception that triggered a huge win at Norfolk State, Motta spent his first spring in college concentrating on football practice. After discussing his desires with his coaches last spring -- football came first -- Motta got the go-ahead to play baseball, and ate up CIAA pitching.
"I missed the game, and I was glad to get back into it," Motta said. "I enjoy football, but I pretty much realize I've got no chance to keep playing it after college. I've wanted to play pro baseball ever since I was a Little Leaguer, and I can still dream about that."