Morehouse College Maroon Tigers: Reloading For 2013

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Photo courtesy of thesiac.com

Photo courtesy of thesiac.com

Like water under the bridge, Morehouse had a 2012 season that it would like to forget. The Maroon Tigers were the Preseason pick to win the SIAC East Division, but the prediction was not indicative of the team’s end result. Tons of misfortune, coupled with an overwhelming amount of injuries to several impact players left Morehouse depleted at the end of its 3-7 campaign. Motivated and recovered, the Maroon Tigers will be looking to rebound from the school’s first losing season in five years.

“One of the things we have to do is stay healthy,” said Morehouse head football coach Rich Freeman. “I feel like that was a factor in our lack of success last season. We give ourselves a better chance to win each week when we are healthy.”

While the team will have big shoes to fill on offense, and defense, particularly in the skill positions, Morehouse used recruiting and development to fill the missing voids. The team’s biggest loss is that of David Carter, who finished his career as the school’s All-Time leader in scoring, rushing, and touchdowns scored. Although at least five different running backs received unofficial tryouts last year in the absence of Carter, junior running back Shelton Hamilton, has emerged as the starter. Hamilton, another power back, gained 377 yards in five games last season before a leg injury ended his season. Winston Bodrick, who had a solid season at running back in 2011, but sat out last year, will return to compete for the starting spot.

The most intriguing, yet most interesting competition this fall, will be the battle for the starting quarterback position. Freeman said he foresees a “very tight race for the starting quarterback job.” Rio Johnson, a transfer from East Carolina, and veterans Joshua Harris and Jordan Tolliver will compete for the starting spot left vacant by Donnay Ragland who graduated magna cum laude. Morehouse returns a strong receiving corps, led by Devon Mann. The sophomore receiver led the team in overall yardage and yardage per game, and was the team’s second leading receiver, by receptions and yardage. Drew Wilkins, first team All-SIAC, and Richard Washington second team All-SIAC, return to anchor a Morehouse offensive line that was third-best in the SIAC last season.

Much of the rebuilding will be done on defense, because of the loss of five key starters. The entire linebacker corps was lost to graduation and completed eligibility. Three defensive starters – Elijah Anderson, Brandon Houston and Justin Oliver – were voted All-SIAC. The defense will be bolstered by the return of All-SIAC defensive tackle Clarence Christian.

Morehouse should shine on Special Team, with the return of punter Temitayo Agoro and kick returner Thomas Williams, who led the SIAC in kick return average and was third in the nation in that category. Transfer placekicker Hector Solis will fill a much-needed role in the kicking game.

2012 Maroon Tigers By the Numbers
Scoring Offense: 28.4 (3rd)
Scoring Defense: 26.5 (6th)
Total Offense: 361.1 (3rd)
Total Defense: 334.1 (7th)
Rushing Offense: 217.6 (2nd)
Rushing Defense: 152.1 (6th)
Passing Offense: 143. 5 (9th)
Passing Defense: 181.1 (7th)

2013 Maroon Tigers at Glance
Head Coach: Rich Freeman (7th season)
Last SIAC Championship: None (Black College National Championship in 1933)
Last Playoff Appearance: 2010
Returning Starters: (6 offense, 5 defense, 1 Special Teams)
Players to Watch: RB Shelton Hamilton, DL Clarence Christian, WR Devon Mann, OL Drew Wilkins

Primary Strengths: As it has been for the last three season, Morehouse’s strength will come from its offensive line. With the return of four of five starters will allow a easy transition for the new quarterbacks and running backs. The defensive line will anchor the defense this season.

Schedule: Morehouse will play a challenging schedule, including three classic games. The season will open against Howard University, in the AT&T Nation’s Classic, at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium. After a road game against Lane College, the Maroon Tigers will travel to Chicago, to take on the SIAC’s newest member – Central State University – in the Windy City’s historic Soldier Field. After two home games against Edward Waters College and Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse will play in the 78th Annual Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic – the longest running rivalry in HBCU football. Following a road game at Albany State, Morehouse will return for its final home game of the season – the Homecoming game against Benedict. Morehouse finishes the season on the road against Fort Valley State and Kentucky State.

2013 Schedule
v. Howard 9/7 (Nation’s Classic)
@ Lane 9/14
v. Central State 9/21 (Chicago Classic)
v. Edward Waters 9/28
v. Clark Atlanta 10/5
v. Tuskegee 10/12 (TU/MH Classic)
@ Albany State 10/19
v. Benedict College 10/26
@ Fort Valley State 11/2
@Kentucky State 11/9

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