Coach Rich Freeman looks forward to the new season at Morehouse and a healthy roster that he hopes will lead to a much-improved record.
“We made a concerted effort over the offseason to try to get stronger and get in the weight room so we can prevent injury,” Freeman said, recalling the injury trouble that led to last season’s 3-7 mark. “We had several key players, both starting defensive ends, the first four running backs, our entire secondary and a couple of defensive tackles that were injured during several games last year.”
The Maroon Tigers have received consistent play from the offensive line for several seasons, and Freeman expects that to continue.
His big goal involves the quarterback position.
“I think the key is going to be to validate a position that has not been validated during my tenure here at Morehouse,” Freeman said. “We’ve had all-conference defensive linemen, All-American linebackers, the best offensive line, and I think we’re on target for that again this year in the conference. The only position that has not been validated for us is quarterback.”
Morehouse will count on three quarterback transfers: Rio Johnson, who started last year at quarterback for East Carolina; Joshua Harris, a transfer from Grand Valley State; and Jordan Tarver, a transfer from Kent State.
“Our offensive coordinator is an ex-quarterback in the NFL, and he’s been trying to throw the football the last six years, but we really haven’t been able to because we haven’t had the quarterback position validated,” Freeman said. “We feel like we’re very strong on the offensive line and running back and pretty good strength at receiver. We just need a trigger man. If we can get that, I think we’ll have a solid football team.”
Juniors T.J. Williams and Shelton Hamilton, both returning from injuries, understand that filling the shoes of David Carter at running back won’t be easy.
“You pretty much just try to come in with the same stamina and intensity that the person before you had,” Williams said. “Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what is going to happen.”
Hamilton ran for more than 300 yards in the first three games last season before a torn ACL sidelined him. Williams also spent time with an injury a year ago.
“(Hamilton) realizes the humongous shoes he has to fill, and I have no doubt he can do so,” Freeman said.
The Maroon Tigers don’t have time to waste, opening the season against Howard on Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C., in the Nation’s Football Classic.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC