The best defensive back, the quarterback and a top offensive lineman are the newest names on an injury list that grows with every loss. The record is 0-5, and the next two opponents are among the hottest teams in black college football. Computer power ratings put them near the bottom of the nation's 196 Division I teams.
In other words, it is a typical week in the Morgan State football careers of seniors Glenny Moore and Nathan Ayers.
Moore will be at wingback and Ayers -- a bum ankle willing -- at running back when the Golden Bears try to turn around what is shaping up as another long season tomorrow (1:30 p.m., WEAA-FM 88.9) at Hughes Stadium against 4-0 South Carolina State, the lone unbeaten in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Bulldogs beat Howard 10-5 in their only MEAC contest, while Morgan State, which will be making its first home appearance since Aug. 31, is 0-2 in the conference. The Golden Bears will be minus standout cornerback Eddie Hill and freshman quarterback Michael Moore, who will be replaced by sophomore Maurice Chase.
Ayers and Moore were local high school heroes -- the former at Dunbar and the latter at Mervo -- who moved up Hillen Road with dreams of restoring Morgan State to the lofty status it once held in football. They claim the Golden Bears are finally making progress, but at best the two will settle for briefly being in on the start of what is a long overdue turnaround.
"Coach Diggs is the one who can change this program," Moore said. "If he can't do it, no one can. We're disciplined and organized, and that hasn't always been the case while I've been here. The young guys are in a good situation. I wish I was a freshman again."
Ricky Diggs is Morgan State's third head coach in five seasons and the seventh since 1979, the last time the Golden Bears were a winner. Ayers and Moore were recruited in 1987 by Jesse Thomas, and they played from 1988-90 under Ed Wyche. There have been personal honors along the way, but both are long past the point when they would trade statistics for some victories.
Moore was a MEAC first-team all-star wide receiver in both 1988 and '89, collecting 80 receptions for 1,397 yards and 12 touchdowns. Diggs installed the run-and-shoot offense last spring, moving Moore to a wingback position. He leads the Golden Bears with 12 receptions, giving him 95 for his career, but they have netted only 58 yards.
Ayers has 961 career rushing yards and could lead the Golden Bears in rushing for a fourth year, but his career average is only 2.7 a carry. He became the first Morgan State back since 1983 to gain 100 yards in a 1988 win over Norfolk State, yet finished that season with only 264 yards. He began last season as a linebacker, but ended with 310 yards rushing, his collegiate best.
Ayers had 70 yards on 14 carries in this season's opener, but only 89 on 35 since. He hasn't played since Sept. 21, when he injured his ankle at Youngstown State, currently No. 18 in the I-AA rankings. Ayers missed last week's 56-6 loss at No. 7 Northern Iowa, and said Morgan State still has changes to make before it can compete with teams of that caliber.
Fifth-year seniors are a key ingredient in most Division I programs. Morgan State has four, but none went about it the traditional way, sitting out the freshman year.
Wide receivers Walter Bland (Milford Mill) and Tony James (Randallstown), who currently have a combined 15 catches, played as freshmen in 1987, but sat out the 1988 season.
Ayers and Moore received an extra season because of medical hardships, the running back's in 1989 and the wingback's last year, when he went down in the second game with a deep thigh bruise.
Since they came to Morgan State, the Golden Bears have gone 7-40-1, three of the wins coming in September 1989.
The previous five years were just as futile, and Moore asks alumni and fans to remain patient.
"The people who came to our first game [a 26-7 loss to North Carolina A&T in a game that was tied at the half] know we're improved," Moore said. "But they still ask, 'When are you going to win a game?' It's coming."