After a week of upheaval that brought national attention, Grambling State players ended their protest after talking to former head coach Doug Williams, who recommended the players, “Go out there and play football.” As such, Grambling State will host Texas Southern on Saturday at Robinson Stadium.
According to a statement on Monday, senior safety and team spokesperson Naquan Smith said the players spoke to a several people, including Williams, who put them in touch with Jim Bernhard, a businessman in Baton Rouge, La. Smith said Bernhard explained to the players that he has their “best intentions at heart and that he would ensure we had updated facilities, but we had to agree to being back practicing Monday and finish the remainder of the season.”
According to the statement, the team will play, but “… we have not forgotten the situation and how we’ve gotten here.”
Last week tensions were really high as Grambling State refused to travel to Jackson State. The game was ruled a forfeit. The Tigers (0-5 SWAC, 0-8 overall) have gone through a lot this season. The players will actually be playing for their third coach of the season against Texas Southern (1-5 SWAC, 1-6 overall).
Williams, a Grambling legend, was let go after the second game of the season. George Ragsdale took over as the interim head coach. Ragsdale was reassigned to within the school’s athletic department last Thursday and Dennis “Dirt” Winston replaced him. Winston has to try to pick up the pieces and get the Tigers ready to play Texas Southern.
“We’re going to put everything behind us,” Winston said. “The young men came here to play football. This week we’re really concentrating on Texas Southern, moving forward and playing football.”
Winston has quite a challenge ahead of him with all that has happened over the past few days. Actually, it’s been a pretty rough stretch for Grambling State, which is one of black college football’s most-storied programs. In 2011, the Tigers won the SWAC championship. However, Grambling State really struggled last year, posting a 1-10 record.
Offensively, the G-Men are led by junior quarterback D.J. Williams (Doug Williams’ son), who has completed 101 of 222 passes for 1,149 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. His big target is junior wide receiver Chester Rogers, who has 38 receptions for 516 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman running back Jestin Kelly is the team’s leading rusher. Kelly has 81 carries for 411 yards and two TDs.
On defense, the Tigers’ bright spots have been senior linebacker Steve Orisakwe (37 solo, 69 total tackles), junior linebacker Aaron Breed (31 solo, 58 total tackles) and sophomore cornerback Nicholas Peoples (37 solo, 58 total tackles, two sacks and two interceptions).
“I think our guys are very focused,” Winston said. “Right now, things are pretty much behind them. They’ve made their statement. Now, we’re moving forward.”
• The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced its seven newest members. The Class of 2014 includes Robert Brazile (Jackson State), Leroy Kelly (Morgan State), John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), Michael Strahan (Texas Southern), Willie Totten (Mississippi Valley State), Doug Wilkerson (North Carolina Central) as player inductees and Marino Casem (Alcorn State) as a coach inductee.
The inductees were selected from a list of 25 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame selection committee. The committee is comprised of black college sportswriters, analysts and commentators. The inductees will be honored at the fifth annual enshrinement ceremony, presented by the Atlanta Falcons, on March 1, 2014. The event will take place at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta in conjunction with Black College Football weekend.
• Texas Southern quarterback Homer Causey was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Causey led Texas Southern in passing and rushing in a 20-13 loss to Alcorn State. He completed 17 of 32 passes for 226 yards while rushing for 110 yards on 15 carries.
• Texas Southern linebacker Damon Watkins was selected as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Watkins had six tackles, two for loss, and a sack. He also forced and recovered a fumble.
• Hampton wide receiver Jorrian Washington was chosen as the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Washington carried the ball 23 times for 119 yards with a touchdown in the Pirates’ 27-17 win over Norfolk State.
• Morgan State safety Paul Eatman was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Eatman had two interceptions in the Bears’ 34-22 win over North Carolina Central. He also had five solo tackles.
SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll
2. Tennessee State
3. South Carolina State
4. Winston-Salem State
5. Jackson State
6. Alabama State
8. Prairie View A&M
9. Alcorn State
10. Virginia State
Associated Press contributed to this story