Grambling State rides six-game winning streak into Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Grambling State has been the hottest team in the SWAC.

The Tigers (4-0 SWAC, 7-2 overall) are riding a six-game winning streak as they head into a conference battle with Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-4, 1-8) in Little Rock on Saturday. Grambling State is also in first place in the SWAC West Division.

Tigers head coach Rod Broadway has received some great performances from several G-Men, and has been very impressed with defensive tackle Otis Young. Young, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior, has 31 total tackles (17 solo and 14 assisted). He has nine tackles for loss of 23 yards.

"Otis has played well for us," Broadway said. "He's also developed into a good leader for us. He's done some good things on and off the field. He's a guy we put on a scholarship this year who has been around here. I'm proud of him and happy for him with the way he's developed into being a good player. Hopefully, he'll continue to get better and play well. The thing we get from Otis is great leadership."

Young has been quite an addition for the Tigers. He was an All-Public League standout at Philadelphia's Lincoln High School. He started his college football career at the University of New Hampshire in 2004 and decided to transfer after two seasons. It was a big move for him, as he came all the way down to Louisiana to finish his career.

"I'm glad I came down here," Young said. "It's a better situation for me. I knew about Grambling State's program. At the time I came here, Coach [Melvin] Spears was the head coach. Then, Coach Broadway came [and] took over the program. He gave me a chance to play. It's been great playing for him.

"Coach Broadway had a good first season. We went to the SWAC championship game. I just wish we could have won the championship. We're hoping to get back. But we take things one game at a time. We don't overlook anybody. We have a game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Coach Broadway has us focused on them. That's how things are done here."

As one of the most storied football programs in the history of the game, Grambling State has a huge football legacy. It all started with the late Eddie Robinson -- Grambling State's legendary coach -- along with a number of terrific players.

"Everybody remembers Coach Robinson," Young said. "He was a great man. He did a lot for the game. Doug Williams still comes back to the school. [James] "Shack" Harris has been down here. They all played for Coach Robinson. I'm from Philly. We don't have a lot of guys who come down here. They mostly go to MEAC schools like Hampton. Football is really big down here. I found that out right away. When you think about all the guys who have come through this program, it's an honor to play here."

Young and Tigers defensive tackle Melvin Matthews have made it difficult to run against the G-Men. Matthews, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound senior, has a team-high six sacks, 25 total tackles, 17 solo and 12.5 tackles for loss of 81 yards. Broadway feels that Young and Matthews have plugged some big holes with their size and quickness.

"Otis and Melvin Matthews have done a good job of holding down the middle," Broadway said. "They make it tough for people to run the football. If Otis continues to play well inside and Melvin continues to do well, it's going to be tough to block those guys."

Young came to Grambling State known for his pass-rushing skills. He developed into an all-around player with hopes of playing on Sundays.

"Melvin and I have been working well together," Young said. "He's really helped me with my stance, which has allowed me to play better against the run. I want to keep it going throughout the rest of the season. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to play at the next level."

HBCU notes

• Bethune-Cookman QB McKinson Souverain and South Carolina State TE Octavius Darby were named the MEAC co-offensive players of the week. Souverain completed 7 of 12 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown. He also had 27 carries for 120 yards and two rushing TDs in the team's 24-14 victory over North Carolina A&T.
Darby had four receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 24.25 yards per catch and had an impact on the Bulldogs' offensive line that accounted for 358 total yards (246 in the air).

• Delaware State DB Avery Grant was chosen as the MEAC defensive player of the week. Grant had seven solo tackles and seven assisted, and also forced and picked up a fumble to give Delaware State an opportunity to drive for the game-winning score.

Herbert Bynes continues to have a big season for Hampton. The Pirates' QB completed 26 of 45 passes for 348 yards with two touchdowns and one rushing TD on seven carries in a losing effort to Winston-Salem.

• Morgan State RB Devan James broke the 1,000-yard mark in a 13-10 victory over Florida A&M. James had 30 carries for 99 yards and one touchdown. He has 1,077 yards on the season.

• Alabama State RB Rahmod Traylor has been named the SWAC offensive player of the week. Traylor rushed 21 times for 110 yards while scoring three touchdowns in the Hornets' 24-17 win over Alcorn State.

• Southern DE Vince Lands was named the SWAC defensive player of the week. Lands made 11 tackles, five of them for loss, and had 2.5 sacks in the team's 31-24 double-overtime victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune. You can reach him at dhunt37261@aol.com.