HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Morgan State.
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MORGAN STATE (4-7 IN 2018)
The MEAC (Morgan St. was Tied for 6th in 2018)
COACH: Tyrone Wheatley – At School: 1st year (0-0 record) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2014 (First Round – Lost to Richmond)
2018 OFFENSE: 18.7 ppg (108th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 25.6 ppg. (42nd in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 26 – vs. Florida A&M: We could put the North Carolina A&T rematch of last year's upset win for the Bears here, but we think the FAMU game could be just as big this year. This one could be quite the home field battle for the Bears, and a win would possibly setup a monster home matchup two weeks later with the Aggies (as long as Morgan State has taken care of business in the rest of the MEAC schedule).
SUM IT UP: Oh my, did Morgan State tease a winning record last year. In September, the Bears knocked off North Carolina A&T just a few weeks after the Aggies had disposed of five-time OVC champ Jacksonville State and FBS East Carolina in back-to-back weeks. The Bears also had close losses to the CAA's Albany (3 points), S.C. State (3 points), Howard (9 points and winning with seven minutes left) and Bethune-Cookman (2 points). To sum up? Morgan State beat the two-time defending HBCU National Champs (NCA&T) and missed four other wins by inches. Yes … Morgan State could have been an eight-win team, even with an interim coach situation. So it begs the question? How good can the Bears be this year?
Well, with 17 starters back (includes special teams), the Bears will undoubtedly be a factor in MEAC play. Hiring former Michigan and NFL star Tyrone Wheatley as the new head coach, straight from coaching in the NFL, is another home run situation. Starting with the offense … there's a ton to fix from last year, but there's good talent returning. Two quarterbacks who contributed greatly are still here — DeAndre Harris (last year's leading passer and 2nd leading rusher) and the freshman who replaced him late last year and was a spark, D.J. Golatt. The O-line is rebuilding, with NFL draft pick Joshua Miles (last year's LT) and two other positions looking for new contributors. All in all, it is amazing that this program was 108th in the FCS last year in scoring offense, yet was right on the cusp of eight wins and beat the HBCU national champ. That brings us to the defense …
Morgan State held NCA&T to 13 points in last year's win, and played tough 'D' in league play to hold FCS opponents overall to just under 25 points a game. This unit returns eight starters, the No. 2 and No. 3 tacklers and top two "negative yardage" guys. The top three INT producers are also back on the roster. There's a lot to work with here, collectively, and don't be surprised if Morgan State pins a lot of opponents down in MEAC play.
OUR TAKE: Morgan State opens with a gauntlet in the non-conference schedule. Nobody is going to accuse the Bears of scheduling lightly. First, it's a trip to FBS Bowling Green, then FCS powerhouse James Madison, then to one of the best Army teams in the past 50 years. That will make it tough to carry a win into the MEAC opener at home with North Carolina Central, but it will make the Bears battle-hardened and ready for MEAC competition. Within the league? Having what looks like the two top MEAC teams (on paper) at home, NC A&T and FAMU, is a big positive. If the Bears find a groove on offense, this may be a seven-win program or better. If they need another year to season, it might be a five or six-win situation.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./LB Ian McBorrough (1st Team All MEAC – 79 tackles, 9 TFL, 6 sacks).
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./DB Donte Small (1st Team All MEAC – 4 INTs); Sr./DL Rico Kennedy (2nd Team All MEAC – 10 TFLs, 79 tackles, 4.5 sacks); Sr./QB DeAndre Harris (1,009 yards passing, 5 TDs; 359 yards rushing, 3 TDs); Sr./WR Manasseh Bailey (425 yards receiving, 4 TDs); Sr./RB Joshua Chase (514 yards rushing, 3 TDs); Soph./QB D.J. Golatt (694 yards passing, 6 TDs); Jr./OL Stefan Touani (returning starter); Sr./OL Tarik Johnson (returning starter); Sr./DB Dominick Trigg (3 INTs); Jr./OL Bruce Trigg (started all 11 games in 2017)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./OL Allen Jones (Top 300 signee in HERO Sports 2019 recruiting rankings — reported offers from Toledo and Temple)
THE QUOTE: "It is with great pleasure and honor that I accept the Head coaching position at Morgan State University. I would like to thank President David Wilson and Mr. Scott for this incredible opportunity. I consider it a privilege to lead the young men of Morgan State using football as a vehicle to implement a continuation of development, mentorship, and productivity beyond the field and when their playing days are over. I can't wait to become united with the city of Baltimore and become woven in the fabric of the community.– Head Coach Tyrone Wheatley said after being hired
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Morgan State Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The MEAC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast