(Photo Credit – Terrence Williams)
WASHINGTON (August 23, 2018) – With the 125th season of Howard University Football approaching, Coach Mike London and the Bison seek to take the next step and win their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title since 1993.
After a successful 2017 campaign, HU refuses to be satisfied; thus, this year’s battle cry and motto #WeWantMore. A year ago, the Bison finished 7-4 overall and 6-2 in league play, including a 43-40 victory at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe UNLV.
“We’re looking to improve our performance in different areas,” said London on his expectations. “We’re looking to improve our football IQ and reduce penalties. With young guys developing, we want them to show progress as we continue to build the program.”
Despite losing several key players due to graduation, Coach London and his superb staff has filled voids with several outstanding prospects while adding depth to various positions. Although last year’s resurgence was magnificent, many believe this season’s version will be even better; hence, the program’s other motto #MissionPossible2.0.
Second-year offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Brennan Marion returns six starters from last year’s explosive offense, led by All-MEAC wide receivers Kyle Anthony (Miramar, Fla.) and Jequez Ezzard (College Park, Ga.) and 2017 MEAC Rookie of the Year quarterback Caylin Newton (Atlanta).
“We have a pretty good team this year,” said Ezzard, who recently was named to the 2018 BOXTOROW HBCU Preseason All-America Team. “The focus this season is a championship. We’re coming for it.”
Last season, the Bison averaged nearly 30 points per game while displaying the league’s top balanced offense. On the ground, Howard led the conference in rushing (215.5 ypg) and finished second in air behind reigning MEAC champions North Carolina A&T State (230.5 ypg).
This season, Howard added more weapons for the second-year signal caller with the additions of wide receivers, three-star prospect A’Jae Boyd (Pittsburgh, Calif.) and Tayshaun Porter (Newport News, Va.).
“We’re looking to take advantage with our talented wide receivers and quarterback,” London stated. “Offensively, we realize that their skillsets allow us to be successful.”
After losing three OL starters from last year’s club, HU addressed the OL with talented prospects during the early signing period, who averaged 6’3” and 300 pounds.
Howard’s key losses include running back Dezmond Wortham (Frisco, Texas) and All-MEAC First Team selections Anthony Philyaw (Los Angeles) and Gerald Wright (Miami).
A year ago, second-year defensive coordinator and 2019 College Football Hall of Fame finalist Vince Brown played several freshmen during the 2017 season; thus, watching the defense battle through growing pains.
“Defensively, we had a lot of young players play last year that might not be household names yet,” London added. “We’ve also added young players on the roster competing for starting jobs.”
Howard returns seven starters from last season, including All-MEAC selection defensive back Bryan Cook (Cincinnati). Cook headlines an exciting secondary, which features sophomores Tye Freeland (Petersburg, Va.) and D.C. native Aaron Walker. With the addition of three-star prospect defensive back Jalen Smith (Virginia Beach, Va.) from Ocean Lakes H.S. (Va.), HU’s secondary will create challenges for opposing teams’ air attack.
“I expect us to communicate and trust each other,” said Cook on his expectations. “We’re going to complete, play our game, make plays, and have fun doing it. I am going to do whatever it takes to help this team.”
Last season, second-year pass rusher Aaron Motley (Highland Springs, Va.) led the squad with five sacks while registering 39 tackles (35 solo), six pass breakups, and three forced fumbles despite missing three games. Senior Isaiah Fludd (Richmond, Va.) and junior Tyler Fuller (Manuel, Texas) also return to the DL, along with highly recruited Jayde Pierre (Sterling, Va.), who ranks No. 27 in HERO Sports 2018 recruiting class.
The unit’s biggest losses come in the linebacker core, losing last year’s leading tackler Devin Rollins (Miami) and the versatile Elijah Anglin (Detroit). Despite their departures, Howard has an experienced set of veterans ready to fill those holes, led by seniors Marcellus Allison (Durham, N.C.), David Lee (Miramar, Fla.) and Dominique Smith (Cincinnati). Two-star prospect Jomier Augustine (Suwanee, Ga.) provides more depth to the front seven.
Howard’s 11-game regular season slate features five home contests at Greene Stadium and two matchups against FBS opponents: at Ohio (Sept. 1); at Kent State (Sept. 8). On Sept. 15, the Bison host Savannah State in their home opener before traveling to Indianapolis for the 35th Circle City Classic against Bethune-Cookman (Sept. 22).
Other notable games include Howard University Homecoming versus South Carolina State (Oct. 27), followed by long-time rival Florida A&M (Nov. 3).