Morgan State changes direction with `proactive' QB, increased emphasis on defense

Ex-Poet Selby takes over for departed Littlejohn

kicking upgrade sought

College Football

August 07, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

"The Big Show" has closed, and the time has come for a local revue at Morgan State.

With the departure of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference offensive player of the year Bradshaw Littlejohn, the vaunted Bears attack now shifts to the direction of quarterback Byron Selby, No. 1 on both the depth chart and the numerical roster.

Two years in waiting - including a redshirt season as a freshman - the former Dunbar High all-everything selection - takes over a unit that had no trouble finding the end zone, averaging 36.6 points and 457.6 yards per game en route to a 5-6 record, the first losing finish in coach Don Hill-Eley's regime.

And scoring shouldn't be a problem again with All-MEAC receivers Kelvin Dickens and Chris Cash returning to snag Selby's passes and running backs Jason Jackson (school-record 1,191 yards, All-MEAC second team) and Craig Nelson (on pace for more than 1,000 yards before being injured in the third game) back to carry the load on the ground.

Now, if the Bears can only improve their porous defense and ineffective kicking game, they might have something. Morgan was involved in one shootout after another in 2004. Its games averaged 75 points and nearly 1,500 yards of total offense as both sides constantly went for the home run ball.

Hill-Eley hired Michael Vite as the new defensive coordinator to slow the scoreboard damage and expects freshmen James Meade and Thomas Beese to upgrade the team's kicking.

But the spotlight also will glare upon Selby, who will take a different approach than the flamboyant and 255-pound Littlejohn, who could bowl over defenders in the open field or heave the long ball 50 to 60 yards.

"Bradshaw was a reaction player, Selby is proactive," said Hill-Eley. "All his life he has had confidence in himself as a quarterback."

Unlike Littlejohn and Lejominick Washington, Morgan's previous two quarterbacks, Selby has not been shifted from another position. At Dunbar, he was a three-year starter at quarterback, a background that bodes for sound decisions.

"I think that's going to help me, take me over the hump," said Selby, who rushed for 89 yards and went 0-for-5 through the air in six appearances last season. "I'm more of a true quarterback. I'm not going to plow over anybody or even try. There won't be as many quarterback running plays. My approach is more old school."

"I just want to make sure he realizes he doesn't have to do all that stuff Bradshaw did," said Hill-Eley.

Highly recruited by some big-time colleges out of Dunbar, he chose Morgan because Hill-Eley made a personal visitation and because "I could see the change taking place. Some excitement was coming back."

Selby beefed up by 13 pounds by working out in the offseason. He said he "stays" on campus most of the time to avoid the potential pitfalls of being home. "You're in your own world here."

Vite said he will keep the defensive scheme simple and fundamental as Morgan tries to shore up its biggest shortcoming.

"We were the worst tackling team in America," he evaluated from film. "We've got to have confidence in the people we're playing with and take care of the little things. I don't want stars. I want the whole defense making big plays at different times."

The Bears will be dominated by sophomores and juniors and the first squad recruited exclusively by Hill-Eley and his staff.

"I think we've got the right defensive coordinator and players in place," he said. "If we can stop some people, we'll be all right."

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