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It's not easy trying to get on the field as a freshman. These players usually have to wait for playing time. They have to pay their dues. If they get a chance to play on special teams to gain some experience, that's a big accomplishment.
However, there are freshmen capable of playing right away. They're truly special players. The MEAC and SWAC have some of those special freshmen players who are playing major roles for their teams.
These players should have bright futures. As the years roll on, you may want to remember the names. They're certainly going to be players to watch down the road. The freshmen in these conferences may not have received a lot of attention coming out of high school. Nevertheless, they're getting an opportunity to make a name for themselves now. Here's a list of freshmen who have been able to display their talents on a regular basis this season.
McGhee, a 6-3, 200-pounder, was just named the MEAC Rookie of the Week. He completed 20-of 34 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown in a 14-9 losing effort to Morgan State. McGhee plays for Bison head coach Garry "Flea" Harrell. The Flea has Ted White on his coaching staff as an offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. White was an outstanding quarterback during his playing days at Howard, and Harrell was a great receiver for the Bison. McGhee should flourish under the tutelage of Harrell and White. So far, he has completed 58.6 percent of his passes, while throwing for 697 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions.LB Michael Dallas II, Morgan State
Dallas is not a real big linebacker. At 6-0 and 205 pounds, he uses his quickness to get to the ball. He's been a real bright spot on the Bears' defense (35 total tackes, 18 solo), becoming a solid contributor in each game. His ability to play the run has made him an effective player.DL Leroy Cummings, Savannah State
Cummings has done a nice job of getting to the quarterback. The 6-2, 270-pounder, has 2.5 sacks this season and 5.5 tackles-for-loss for 20 yards. He can cover a lot of ground up front and moves very well laterally. Cummings has 15 total tackles and still has plenty of room to grow. With his ability, he should get better each season.LB Tiron Guion, North Carolina Central
Guion is one of the smallest linebackers in the MEAC. In spite of his size, the 5-9, 178-pounder, has been a terrific player. Guion had six tackles and four solo against Elon University this season and also returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. He can cover running backs out of the backfield and comes up very quickly against the run. Guion has already been honored as the conference rookie of the week for his efforts.
Lovelocke has good size, can move around in the pocket, has a lot of patience and a smooth delivery. The 6-5, 200-pounder, completed 19-of-23 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-34 victory over Mississippi Valley State last weekend. Lovelocke has been very impressive this season, connecting on 48-of-86 passes for 592 yards and six touchdowns and three interceptions.QB D.J. Williams, Grambling State
D.J. Williams is the son of head coach Doug Williams, former Grambling State and NFL quarterback. D.J. is in a terrific situation where he can learn from one of the best in the business. Doug was an All-American at Grambling State and played for the legendary Eddie Robinson. He also led the Washington Redskins to the 1988 Super Bowl championship. D.J., a 6-4, 193-pounder, seems to have a lot of potential. He has completed 43-of-85 passes for 499 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He has the ability to stay in the pocket and find the open receiver.WR Montarius Smith, Alabama A&M
Smith didn't waste any time making an impact for Alabama A&M's offense. The 6-0, 170-pounder, leads the Bulldogs with 15 receptions for 214 yards, averaging 14.3 yards a catch. He has the speed to stretch the field and can also find the open spots in the zone defense.DB Casey Freeman, Alcorn State
Freeman plays the run extremely well and knows how to tackle in the open field and react very quickly on the sweeps. The 6-1, 200-pounder, has 25 total and 18 solo tackles with good speed in the secondary.DL Damien Wilson, Alcorn State
Wilson is one of those defensive linemen with a great nose for the ball and is a great run stopper. The 6-3, 250-pounder, has good range and quickness. He's not an easy player to block.LB Jerome Howard, Prairie View A&M
Howard is one of those playmaking linebackers. He does a good job of flying to the ball and is very aggressive against the run. He knows how to pick his spots in terms of rushing the passer. The 6-0, 210-pounder, has 17 total tackles and three sacks this season.
South Carolina State quarterback Derrick Wiley was selected as the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Wiley completed 12-of-20 passes for 250 yards with four touchdown passes in a 69-0 win over Delaware State. He also had 13 carries for 40 yards and accounted for two rushing touchdowns. He totaled 290 yards of offense and tied two school single game records including passing touchdowns and total TDs in a game.
Morgan State linebacker Michael Dallas was chosen as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Dallas tallied nine tackles, seven solo, to help Morgan State defeat Howard University. He also had two forced fumbles and recovered one for a touchdown.
Alabama A&M running back Kaderius Lacey was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Lacey rushed for a career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with under a minute to play as Alabama A&M won for the first time in school history at Grambling State, 20-14. He also caught two passes for 18 yards.
Alabama State free safety Kejuan Riley had a career-high 12 tackles, nine solo, and tied a career-high with two interceptions in Saturday's 21-14 win at Jackson State. Riley intercepted passes in the second and third quarters, with both coming in the end zone and the second leading to a Hornets' touchdown. Riley has made two interceptions in each of the past two games, and his five picks lead the nation.SBN Black College Football Poll
1. South Carolina State 2. Bethune-Cookman 3. Alabama State 4. Albany State 5. Winston-Salem State 6. Jackson State 7. Florida A&M 8. Norfolk State 9. Hampton 10. Arkansas-Pine BluffBoxtorow HBCU Football Media Top 10 Poll
1. South Carolina State 2. Bethune-Cookman 3. Alabama State 4. Albany State 5. Jackson State 6. Hampton tied with Norfolk State 8. Winston-Salem State 9. Florida A&M 10. Texas SouthernHeritage Sports Radio Network Division I-FCS Poll
1. South Carolina State 2. Bethune-Cookman 3. Alabama State 4. Norfolk State 5. Jackson State 6. Hampton 7. Florida A&M 8. Texas Southern 9. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 10. Alabama A&M
Norfolk State will host South Carolina State on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. in the Fish Bowl Classic. The game will be played at Dick Price Stadium in Norfolk, Va. These are two of the top teams in HBCU football, and both teams are undefeated in MEAC conference play.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.