Dover, Del. (Aug. 21. 2019) --- When it comes to experience and leadership, the safety position tops the list on the 2019 Delaware State football squad.

Led by Preseason All-MEAC selections Jahad Neibauer (sr.) and Devin Smith (sr.), the Hornet coaching staff is counting on the safeties to lead what is expected to be an improved defense this season.

Neibauer, a Preseason All-MEAC First Team pick, ranked second on the Hornets and tied for 14th in the MEAC in tackles at 6.4 per game (70 total) during 2018 season. He also tied for eighth in the conference with 10 passes defended (7 break-ups + 3 interceptions). The Harrisburg, Pa., native was named MEAC Defensive Player-of-the-Week after recording a sack in the endzone for a safety, an interception and 30-yard return, in addition to five solo tackles to lead the Hornets’ in their 25-6 week nine victory over Savannah State last season.

“Jahad is the quarterback of our defense,” said Hornet safeties coach Anthony Missick, a former standout defensive back at the University of Kentucky before playing and coaching in the Canadian Football League. “He’s a very smart player who knows the whole defense and where everyone should line up. We will depend a great deal on his leadership and play-making ability this year.”

Smith, a 2019 Preseason All-MEAC Third Team selection, was fourth on the Hornets in total tackles (55) and tackles for loss (6), while ranking third on the team in solo stops (41) in 2018. He led all players with 11 tackles (nine solo), including four behind the line-of-scrimmage, and a forced fumble vs. FBS Western Michigan last season.

“Like Jahad, Devin acts as a coach on the field,” Missick said. “He’s extremely smart, a solid cover guy and good tackler.”

The Hornets also expect contributions from Jawain Granger (r-so.) and former Dover High School product Tavarus Sample (r-so.), a transfer from Div. II Slippery Rock, at the safety position this season.

“Granger is a bit undersized, but he’s probably our best cover guy with solid technique is very physical,” Missick said. “Sample is a fifth-year guy who brings a ton of experience to the secondary. He can play either strong or free safety and has good cover skills. Once he’s caught up on our system, he’ll be a major factor for us.”

Andrew Reese (so.) and Muadh Abdus-Salaam (so.) also return to the safety position. Reese totaled eight tackles during an injury-plagued freshman season in 2018, including four solo stops in his debut against FBS Buffalo. He also recorded an interception and sack in his rookie season.

Abdus-Salaam was credited with eight tackles, including five unassisted, as a freshman last season.

Kamari Jackson (r-so.) returns to the secondary after sitting out 2018 due to injury, while former Middletown High School standout Esaias Guthrie (fr.) tops the list of newcomers to the unit.

The Hornets will play a record seven home games this season. The home opener is Sep. 14 against Lincoln (Pa.). The Faith and Community Day contest is set for 4:00 p.m. at Alumni Stadium. DSU’s annual homecoming game is the following Saturday (Sep. 21 @ 2:00 p.m.) against Howard.              


Delaware State football