Morgan builds on success, as recruits solidify future

Hill-Eley: Team `loaded'

Towson also is pleased

February 06, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The football renaissance at Morgan State may have just started.

After leading the school to its first winning record since 1979 last season, coach Donald Hill-Eley said yesterday that the success has had a resounding effect on recruiting and that the team is "loaded" for 2003 and beyond.

"We had a lot of newcomers who either transferred or sat out, so our freshman recruiting was mainly for 2004," Hill-Eley said. "All the replacements for the people we were losing were already here."

And a lot of them are local faces, both among the players just signed and those who will be eligible for the first time. Of the 20 names on Morgan's list of committed players, 12 are from Baltimore high schools, including three from Dunbar, two from Edmondson and two from Forest Park.

"It's tremendous, what's going on," the coach said. "We now have kids calling us, and we had to tell some of them no. And the alumni are now urging kids to come here."

The school may have found a legitimate successor to record-setting senior tailback T.J. Stallings (Randallstown) by bringing in Kent State transfer Craig Nelson, who Hill-Eley said runs 100 meters in 10.4 seconds, and there are so many candidates on the offensive and defensive lines that he plans to rotate entire units often, perhaps series by series.

"We may just alternate them in order to get the experience the young players need behind our seniors," Hill-Eley said. "We never want to be rebuilding, just reassembling guys as we go along."

Defensively, Morgan has landed a prize in end Terrell Floyd, a Pittsburgh-area freshman who Hill-Eley said was coveted by Purdue and Pittsburgh.

Towson was challenging for the Patriot League title before a heartbreaking defeat Oct. 26 to Colgate and offensive line injuries led to a final 6-5 record.

So, the recruiting focus was on offensive line depth and defensive ends. In addition, an accent was placed on upgrading talent as the school prepares to move into the tougher Atlantic 10 Conference after next season.

"With this class, we didn't go head-to-head with the Patriot League for too many players," coach Gordy Combs said. "I think we did well with the prospect of playing in the A-10 and the new facility in our favor. We went in with a plan and stayed pretty close to it."

Despite losing defensive back recruit Nick Williams (Calvert Hall) to Navy, the Tigers signed 13 players, including five offensive linemen.

Tackle Jeff Tyler is the brother of Maryland offensive lineman Ed Tyler, and Combs expects Patterson High's Antwan Johnson to become "a heck of a player" on defense.

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