Dover, Del. (Mar. 14, 2017) --- The 2017 Delaware State football team will be on the field throughout the next three weeks for spring camp. The Hornets will conduct 15 spring practice sessions, culminating with the Red/White scrimmage on Apr. 8 at Alumni Stadium.
Kenny Carter, in his third year as head coach of the Hornets, believes many of the young players forced into action last season are ready to take the next step in their development this spring.
“Our young guys gained valuable experience last year and have put in the work during the off-season to give us hope as we move forward,” Carter said. “This year’s spring camp is a good chance to see how much progress we’ve made and gives the players an opportunity to set themselves apart.”
The Hornets will have two quarterbacks in spring camp. Keenan Black (so.) saw limited action under center as a true freshman in 2016. He did not attempt a pass, but had five carries for 13 yards (long 7), two receptions for 13 yards (long 11) and a 14-yard punt return as a multi-purpose player last season. During his scholastic career at Concord (N.C.) High School, Black was his conference’s Offensive Player-of-the Year as a senior. That season, he completed 174-of-290 passes (60.%) for 2,570 yards and 23 touchdowns, and rushed for 483 yards and 10 scores on 123 carries.
“I’m excited to see what Keenan can do this spring,” said Carter. “He’s an outstanding athlete who is capable of beating defenses with his throwing and running abilities.”
Shane Smith (r-fr.) will also take snaps for the Hornets this spring. He did not see action this past season. Smith was an All-Public League selection after completing 122-of-205 passes (59.5%) for 2,012 yards and 23 touchdowns at Philadelphia’s Delaware Valley Charter as a senior in 2015.
Black and Smith are expected to battle incoming freshmen QBs Jack McDaniel (Lorton, Va.; So. County HS) and Nasir Boykins (Phila., Pa; Imhotep Charter) this summer.
The Hornets are excited about their 2017 running backs.
Leading the way is soph. Mike Waters, a 2016 Hero College Sports News FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Freshman All-America and All-MEAC Third Team selection. Waters was tops on the Hornets and third in the MEAC in rushing at 74.5 yards per game in 2016. He rushed for a DSU freshman record 820 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season.
Waters closed out the 2016 campaign with a career-best 224 yards (two TDs) vs. Howard, also a Hornet freshman record, and Delaware State’s first 200-yard rushing game since 2008.
His 2016 highlights also included a 154-yard rushing performance (24 carries) vs. Hampton.
The Hornets will be without running back Brycen Alleyne this spring. Alleyne, who is progressing from off-season knee surgery, was fifth in the MEAC in rushing and third in all-purpose yards this past season.
Delaware State will have the services of running back Nyfease West this spring. West sat out the 2016 campaign due to injury. He rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns at North Penn HS (Pa.) before signing with the Hornets.
“This spring will give us a chance to see what Nyfease can do,” Carter said. “The combination of Waters, Alleyne and West should give us plenty options at the running back position next season.”
Delaware State’s receiver corps will be led by senior Mason Rutherford and sophomore Fatu Sua-Godinet this spring.
Rutherford was a Football Stories Area College All-Star Second Team and All-MEAC Third Team selection in 2016, his first season with the Hornets. The former San Bernardino JC standout was fourth in the MEAC in receiving yards at 51.3 per game (564) and fifth in the league in receptions at 3.8 per contest (42 total) last season.
Sua-Godinet was fourth on the Hornets with 19 receptions and third on the team with 287 receiving yards as a true freshman in 2016. He was also tied for second on the club with two touchdown catches last year.
Tight end Isaiah Williams had a solid freshman season for the Hornets in 2016, hauling in 13 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Plenty of eyes will be on Delaware State’s offensive line this spring. Three 2016 freshman-Joshua Fala, Cade Pedro and Kaiden Crawford-are expected to anchor the line, although Fala is likely to miss spring camp while recovering from injury. The trio is expected to be joined by Charles “Trey” Wallace (jr.) and Lamont Bradford, along with several promising newcomers to give the Hornets hope along the offensive line in the 2017 season.
A veteran linebacker corps is expected to lead the Hornet defense this season. Inside backers Malik Harris (sr.) and Brian Cavicante (so.) are coming off solid seasons. Harris was tops on the team and among the MEAC leaders with 82 tackles (48 solo) in 2016. He was also credited with 11 backfield stops, including a team-high three-sacks.
Cavicante was second on the Hornets with 70 tackles, 43 unassisted, as a true freshman in 2016. He was also third on the team with seven tackles-for-loss a year ago.
Seniors outside backers Kameron Rogers and Garfield Heslop, along with junior Denzel Burgette also bring veteran leadership to the Hornet defense. Rogers had 22 tackles, 2.5 behind the line-of-scrimmage and a fumble recovery, while Heslop was credited with 16 tackles (2.5 TFL), a forced fumble and fumble recovery last season. Burgette recorded 27 tackles, 14 solo, and was fourth on the Hornets with four backfield stops a year ago.
Delaware State’s 2017 spring defensive line will feature junior Jacob Jones, who is expected to move to the nose position, along with sophomores Ulises De Los Santos, Damon Atwater-Stephens and Dominique Drewery. Robert Jernigan (jr.) and Eljon Williams (so.) are also returning players along the defensive front.
The D-line will also be bolstered by the addition of Caleb Hebron, who sat out the 2016 season after transferring from Towson University.
The DSU secondary has more depth than any unit on the team.
The top returning tacklers are safeties Brock Nichols (so.) and Xavier Wilcher (r-jr.). Nichols was fourth on the Hornets with 53 tackles from the strong safety position as a true freshman last season. He’s also one of DSU’s top special teams players.
Wilcher collected 48 tackles, 27 unassisted, and an interception in 2016. Jahad Neibauer recorded 41 tackles, including 31 solos, as a true freshman last season. Keyjuan Selby (jr.) had 40 tackles and a team-high five pass break-ups a year ago.
Delaware State will open the 2017 season at Delaware on Aug. 31. The home opener is Sep. 23 against Norfolk State.
The Hornets’ will face MEAC rival Hampton on Friday evening Sep. 8 in the AT&T Nation’s Capital Classic at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C.Hornets’ 2017 Spring Practice Schedule (subject to change)
Mar. 15 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Mar. 17 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Mar. 18 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Mar. 20 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Mar. 22 6:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m.
Mar. 24 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Mar. 25 7:00 p.m. -9:00 a.m.
Mar. 27 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Mar. 29 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Mar. 31 5:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m.
Apr. 1 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Apr. 3 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Apr. 5 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Apr. 7 5:30 a.m.- 7:30 a.m.
Apr. 8 Red/White scrimmage (2:00 p.m.)