Veterans Give Coach Positive Experience

College Football Morgan State

August 10, 2009|By Aaron Wright

When Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley opens practice today, he'll see 40 returning lettermen and 14 starters from last season's 6-6 (4-4 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) team. Although the Bears were picked to finish sixth in the MEAC preseason poll, there is reason for optimism.

Seven Morgan State players were named to the Preseason All-MEAC team, including running back Devan James and defensive end Justin Lawrence. Hill-Eley, entering his eighth season, has a career mark of 36-43. The team opens the season Sept. 12 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Akron of the Mid-American Conference. The Baltimore Sun spoke with Hill-Eley at Sunday's media day at Hughes Stadium.

Question: : You have a lot of lettermen and starters back from a team that went 4-4 in the MEAC last season. Yet you were picked sixth in the preseason poll. Is your team ready to surprise the MEAC this season?

Answer: : Anytime you've got that many lettermen coming back, it's a good thing. It's pretty much 50-50 offense and defense. Sometimes you lose continuity when you lose seniors, but we're truly in a better position this year. We have a lot of young talent coming in, young men who have been part of high school championships. We have high hopes, and if we jell at the right time we can finish well.

Q: : Who are the teams to beat in the MEAC?

A: : Week in, week out it can be any of them. The division is very strong. Last year we knocked off 7-2 [Florida A&M] then lost to 2-7 Norfolk State. You've got to be prepared every week. You have to make sure you put your best self out there on the field every week.

Q: : Which returning players will be leaders for you?

A: : Pretty much all of them. All of them have had some successes on the field. Quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers and defensive backs - but they've all had some successes and shortcomings from that they should get better and build continuity.

Q: : How about newcomers? Is there anyone you expect to be ready to step in and play?

A: : No, you always say every freshman that you have play is a loss. We've had some who are able to play and really help us, but we think with 40 returners that if a freshman comes in and beats out a returner we're doing something wrong.

Q: : How excited are you for the season?

A: : Very excited for the season. Excited about the new coaches we've hired, the way guys reported to camp. We're much better off than we have been in a long time.

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