Commentary

Quite the catch for Alabama State

Originally Published: September 14, 2011
By Donald Hunt | Special to ESPN.com

You can find a lot of players bigger than Nick Andrews, Alabama State's 5-foot-9, 170-pound wide receiver. But you would be hard-pressed to find many wide receivers better than he is.

Andrews has been playing some big-time football for the Hornets. In Alabama State's 41-9 season-opening win over Mississippi Valley State, he set career highs in receptions (10) and touchdowns (three) while gaining 104 receiving yards. Last week, Alabama State came up a little short, losing 14-7 to FBS opponent Eastern Michigan. Despite the loss, Andrews caught nine passes for 62 yards and moved from seventh to fifth in Hornets history in career receiving yards (1,826 receiving yards), surpassing Kenneth Watson (1,772) and Darryl Pearson (1,823).

[+] EnlargeNick Andrews Alabama State
Alabama State Athletics Alabama State WR Nick Andrews is on track to become the school's all-time leader in receptions.

Andrews has 19 receptions for 166 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the SWAC in receptions. He has been playing at a high level throughout his career. Andrews is in a position to become the school's most prolific receiver. He has 143 catches for 1,826 yards and 20 TDs for his career and is second in Alabama State history in career receptions behind Damon Hodge (176).

Andrews recently passed Reggie Barlow on the school's all-time list for career receptions. In case you don't know, Barlow is the Hornets' head coach. The former Alabama State and NFL wide receiver is in his fifth season as head coach at his alma mater.

Barlow played eight years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1996-2000), one season with Oakland (2001) and two seasons with Tampa Bay (2002-03), where he won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers. Barlow recruited Andrews to Alabama State. He knows a little something about playing wide receiver. Moreover, he knows what it takes to play in the NFL.

"Nick has it all," Barlow said. "He's explosive. He has the best hands out of all the receivers I've seen since I've been here coaching. He runs great routes. He catches the ball in traffic. He's only 5-8, but I do believe he has all the ability to play on the next level. I mean he can return punts and kickoffs. He's climbing up the ladder as one of our all-time receivers."

After playing on the road for two consecutive weeks, Alabama State (1-1) will host Grambling State (1-1) at the Cramton Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. The Hornets went 5-1 at home last season, 3-0 in SWAC play. Alabama State won the Eastern Division Championship, earning a berth in the SWAC title game.

A year ago, Andrews had 48 receptions for 627 yards and seven touchdowns. If the Hornets are to make another run at the conference championship, they'll need another big year from their little man, Andrews.

HBCU notes

Top players in the MEAC, SWAC and HBCU

David Legree, Hampton's senior quarterback, was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Legree led the Pirates to a 23-17 win over Florida A&M while throwing for a season-high 268 yards with two touchdowns in the victory.

• South Carolina State quarterback Dominique Ellis was selected the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Ellis recorded nine tackles, six solo, with two interceptions and one pass breakup in the Bulldogs' 26-18 win over Bethune-Cookman. Ellis had an interception returned 55 yards for a touchdown.

Casey Therriault, Jackson State's All-American quarterback, completed 27 of 39 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 35-29 win over Tennessee State. Therriault was named MVP of the Southern Heritage Classic.

• Delaware State wide receiver Darius Jackson had 11 receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including the score that gave the Hornets a 31-27 win over Shaw University.

• Howard freshman quarterback Greg McGhee connected on 22 of 29 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 46 yards. McGhee helped the Bison edge Morehouse 30-27 in the Nation's Classic in Washington, D.C. He was selected MEAC Rookie of the Week.

• Howard wide receiver Willie Carter caught seven passes for 87 yards with two touchdowns as the Bison defeated Morehouse.

• Norfolk State's visit to Howard University is the only MEAC league game. Other Saturday MEAC contests include (all times ET):

Robert Morris at Morgan State (1 p.m.)
South Carolina State at Indiana (3:30 p.m.)
Hampton at Old Dominion (6 p.m.)
Elon at North Carolina Central (6 p.m.)
Delaware State at Delaware (6 p.m.)
Savannah State at Appalachian State (6 p.m.)
Florida A&M at South Florida (7 p.m.)

There are just two nonconference games in the SWAC this week with Alabama A&M hosting Tuskegee on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Texas Southern entertaining Texas College at 6 p.m. The other Saturday gridiron tilts are conference games.

Mississippi Valley State at Alcorn State (4 p.m.)
Jackson State at Southern (6 p.m.)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Prairie View A&M (6 p.m.)
Grambling State at Alabama State (7 p.m.)

Sports Network Black College Top 10 Football Poll

1. South Carolina State
2. Albany State
3. Bethune-Cookman
4. Grambling State
5. Jackson State
6. Hampton
7. Florida A&M
8. Winston-Salem State
9. Delaware State
10. Alabama State

Boxtorow.com/BASN FCS HBCU Coaches Top 10 Football Poll

1. South Carolina State
2. Jackson State
3. Bethune-Cookman
4. Hampton
5. Albany State
6. Grambling State
7. Florida A&M
8. Alabama State
9. Norfolk State
10. Delaware State

Heritage Sports Radio Network (HSRN) Top 10 Preseason Poll Division I - FCS

1. South Carolina State
2. Bethune-Cookman
3. Jackson State
4. Hampton
5. Grambling State
6. Florida A&M
7. Alabama State
8. Delaware State
9. Tennessee State
10. Norfolk State

Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune. His HBCU Notebook on ESPN.com can be found here. Got a story idea for Hunt? E-mail him at dhunt37261@aol.com.