Morgan has success scheduled to stay in '03

Bears have stability, depth coming off 7-5 season

College Football

April 27, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A year ago, when Morgan State was a perennial Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference doormat, the opposition lined up in droves for a chance to take on the Bears.

"We could have played 22 games last season," coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "Eighteen people wanted to meet us early."

No more. After a 7-5 record that ended a 23-year Morgan losing streak, potential foes have changed their thinking and, so far, the 2003 Bears have to be content with a 10-game schedule.

"It's hard to get games now," Hill-Eley said. "Suddenly, a lot of people don't want to play us. We've earned some respect. But we are working with Southwest Missouri for a final game."

Morgan concluded spring practice yesterday with its annual intra-squad scrimmage. In the Blue-White game, quarterback Bradshaw Littlejohn completed four of 10 passes for 137 yards and a pair of 40-yard touchdowns as the Blue team won, 24-12.

Littlejohn split time with both squads, completing two of five attempts and throwing a touchdown pass with each team. He also rushed for 65 yards. Running back Isaiah Long led the Blue team with five carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yarder.

Strong safety Thomas Potts recorded five tackles. Inside linebacker Albert Gamble had a sack and three tackles for losses. Defensive tackle Andre Williams had two sacks.

The roster is so deep that the coach is "really not depending on" a freshman class that has a distinct local flavor. "We have the luxury of taking a year for them to understand the concept."

With only one major injury this spring -- reserve tailback Wayne Lacey tore a knee ligament -- and few position changes, Morgan will depend on a surprisingly seasoned team to make a run at the MEAC title.

Redshirts Leroy Kelly II -- son of the former Bear and Cleveland Browns great -- Sheldon Campbell (Forest Park) and Shamvon Pusey -- one of five players vying to fill the tight end vacancy left by Vishante Shiancoe -- also figure prominently.

At tailback, where record-setting T.J. Stallings is gone, there are several possibilities, including Isaiah Long, who shifts from quarterback, and holdover William DeShazo.

Hill-Eley said on signing day, "We're loaded." And this time, the 42 holdovers do not have to absorb new offensive and defensive systems.

"This is the first time in eight or nine years we have the same defensive coordinator [Greg Butler]," Hill-Eley said. "And we expect to be the most experienced team in the MEAC. I like our chances against everybody in the league."

There is experience throughout the offensive and defensive lines and at quarterback, where both Lejominick Washington and Littlejohn return as a two-headed danger to opponents.

"The majority of these kids have been in the program three or four years now, so we've tried to impress on them how easily it is to go back to 1-10 or 0-11," Hill-Eley said. "We want them to know they don't have to be the ones to drop the torch."

Sun staff writer Gary Lambrecht contributed to this article.

Morgan's 2003 schedule

Aug. 30--Towson, 7 p.m.; Sept. 6--at Florida A&M., 7 p.m.; Sept. 13--South Carolina State, 7 p.m.; Sept. 27--vs. Hampton at East Rutherford, N.J., 5 p.m.; Oct. 4--at Bethune-Cookman, 2 p.m.; Oct. 11--North Carolina A&T, 7 p.m.; Oct. 18--Howard, 1 p.m.; Oct. 25--at Delaware State, 1 p.m.; Nov. 1--at Savannah State, 1 p.m.; Nov. 8--Norfolk State, 1 p.m.

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