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BCSP Begins 16th Year
What to watch in 2009 football

Lut Williams
BCSP Editor

The preseason football events are over. The players reported to camp this week and are on the practice fields pulling two-a-days. The smell of football is in the air!

So, here we go again! What broadcaster Mark Gray calls, 'the black national pastime,' is about to jump off.

Black college football 2009 officially kicks off when Tuskegee travels to Benedict on August 22 for a 6 p.m. showdown.

Until then, let us catch you up on a couple things to look for as we come up on the end of the first decade of black college football in the 2000s.

We'll miss you, Steve McNair

This week's edition begins our 16th year of publishing the Black College Sports Page. It's hard to believe it's been that long since the late great Steve McNair of Alcorn State graced the top box of the first edition of the BCSP in August 1994, the beginning of his final year of college football.

No player on the black college scene, football or otherwise, has come close to accomplishing what he did. Nor are we likely to see another one like him ­ breaking and setting records for offensive prowess that still stand today, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting, and being the third pick in the NFL Draft.

McNair will continue to be the yardstick by which all others are measured.

Another special talent

But there's a guy down in Tallahassee, Florida playing for Florida A&M that may put some in the mind of the man they called "Air."

He certainly doesn't have the gaudy stats or high profile career McNair had entering his final season at Alcorn State, and no one, to my knowledge, has constructed or is pondering (hint to FAMU SID Alvin Hollins) a Heisman Trophy PR campaign, but FAMU senior quarterback Curtis Pulley has that rare combination of size (6-4, 200), speed, arm strength and talent that comes along at the quarterback position in black college football about once every about 20 years.

Just last season, after joining the Rattlers two weeks before the season started, and only becoming the starter for the last six games, Pulley played well enough (98 of 178, 55.1%, 17 TDs, 3 ints., 118 carries, 885 yards, 7 TDs) and impressive enough to earn first team all-MEAC. That was likely just a sampling

This is what his head coach, Joe Taylor, had to say about Pulley at last week's MEAC kickoff press luncheon in Newport News, Va.

"You don't see a guy like this at this level too often. Not only does he have a strong arm, but he's very athletic. When the pocket is breaking down, he has the ability to make something out of nothing. But then too, he's a good leader and he's a great competitor. He's one of those guys that the bigger the stage the better he plays. He's definitely a difference-maker. We're just glad he's on our side."

Bottom line ­ see Curtis Pulley play. You won't be disappointed.

More to watch

While many eyes will be on Pulley, save some eye-time for these gems.

­ South Carolina State running back Will Ford has rushed for 752, 1,433 and 1,499 yards in his three seasons with the Bulldogs (3,684 total) and enters his senior season needing less than 1,000 yards to become the MEAC's all-time leading rusher. The mark of 4,648 yards was set in 2006 by Hampton RB Alonzo Coleman.

­ Got an e-mail from SIAC sage Hal Lamar saying, Morehouse, not Albany State (who the coaches picked), nor three-time champ Tuskegee will win that conference. The reason, according to Hal ­ the Maroon Tigers' 6-1, 220-pound senior quarterback William Brack.

Brack pulled off a Pulley (a la FAMU's Curtis) finishing just the final three games last season as the starter for Morehouse. During that stretch he brilliantly engineered wins over Albany State, Stillman and Kentucky State ­ brilliant enough to earn him the preseason nod this season as first team all-SIAC QB.

­It's becoming old hat by now, but Prairie View head coach Henry Frazier has beaten every other team in the SWAC except Grambling State. Last year's State Fair Classic in Dallas, where the two meet each year, began with Prairie View jumping out to a 9-0 lead. Four GSU QB Greg Dillon TD passes later and the Panthers bowed again, 40-16.

Pencil in Oct. 3 when they meet this year in Dallas.

OTHERS TO WATCH

­ Texas Southern senior do-everything William Osbourne was second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,308, 192.3 yards per game. Osbourne (82 rec., 1,092 yds., 7 TDs) also was one of the SWAC's three 1,000-yard receivers. The others are Juamorris Stewart of Southern (76 rec., 1,138 yds., 12 TDs) and Thomas Harris of Alabama A&M (72 rec., 1, 208 yds., 7 TDs). One other returning black college receiver knocked on the 1,000-yard door, but didn't get in ­ Jeremy Franklin of Johnson C. Smith (64 rec., 984 yds., 9 TDs).

­ In addition to Ford, the returning 1,000-yard rushers include: DeAngelo Branche of Norfolk State (1,055 yds., 10 TDs), Donald Babers of Prairie View (1.085 yds., 11 TDs), Devan James of Morgan State (1,320 yds., 8 TDs), Taron Hampton of Virginia State (1,067 yds., 8 TDs) and Winston Thompson of Clark Atlanta (1,234, 5 TDs).

­ A bevy of kick returners will be showcased this year.
Florida A&M kick returner LeRoy Vann, who's made several preseason FCS all-American teams after bringing back three punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns last season, is the ringleader.

Perhaps you don't know about Fayetteville State RB/KR Richard Medlin who led all of Div. II averaging 41.6 yards per kickoff return and brought two back for scores. Medlin also rushed for 688 yards and 10 scores for the Broncos. Shaw running back Raymond Williams also brought back two kickoffs for scores while rushing for 768 yards and 8 TDs for the CIAA champion Bears.

© 2009 Azeez Communications, Inc.


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