The top five contenders for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Championship title this season look very similar to the top five finishers of the 2001 season. The only difference- North Carolina A&T is slated to knock Hampton down from the No. 2 spot into a third place finish. Although teams such as Morgan State and Norfolk State aren’t really expected to fare well during the season, a triumph over one of the top five teams could give them the satisfaction of ruining one of the following team’s championship hopes.
Florida A&MThe Rattlers are projected to win their third consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Championship title this season. Transfer quarterback Casey Printers is expected to lead Billy Joe’s Gulf Coast offense with the help of veteran wide receivers Charles Allen and Marco Junious, who combined for almost 70 catches last season, and senior offensive lineman Fletcher Williams. Key returning players on the defensive side of the ball include defensive lineman Sean Kelly, cornerback Sequan Dowe, linebackers Alex Fortson, defensive back Shedrick Copeland, and lineman John Edwards. Relying on his key returning players with a little help from the recruiting class, head coach Billy Joe has his sights set on the Division I-AA National Championship.
North Carolina A & TAlthough the Aggies finished third in the conference last season, they are expected to give the Rattlers competition for the championship title. After all, North Carolina A&T did have the best overall record last season. Returning starter Damian Phillips is expected to start at quarterback. Wide receiver Jamal Jones is also returning but the Aggies are counting on strength from Kareem Sanders, Junious Coston and Desmond Long on the offensive line. Cornerback Curtis Delotach is expected to lead the Aggie defense. Last season he set a division record turning five punts and two interceptions into touchdowns.
HamptonPowered by the theme “When Character Still Mattered,” the Pirates are expected to have another respectable season. Hampton looks to return 17 starters and 44 players overall. Returning quarterback Timothy Fraizer and All-MEAC lineman Erik Steiner are expected to lead the Pirates offensively. On the defensive side of the ball Hampton returns eight starters including Travis Oliver (45 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass deflections and four fumbles). With their experience, the Pirates should offer great competition in the MEAC .
Bethune-Cookman CollegeThe Wildcats should give the Rattlers a run for their money for the MEAC championship title this season. Starting quarterback Allen Suber returns this season to lead the “Wyattbone” offense. Just in case Suber is unable to perform to team expectations, BCC also has two Division I-A transfer quarterbacks on their bench. The Wildcats also return the majority of their dominating defense (which led the MEAC in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and pass defense) and reliable secondary players.
South Carolina StateComing off a shaky start and a powerful finish during the 2001 season, the Bulldogs hope to offer legitimate competition for the top contenders in the MEAC. While S.C. State may still be in an experimental stage offensively, defensively the Bulldogs should be in the game. Returning linebackers Derek Harrison and Dreak Pooler are expected to wreak havoc on the field on the defensive side. The starting quarterback position is still up in the air while Terrance Metcalf returns at receiver and conference leading rusher Kambui Maxwell returns at running back. —-Compiled by: Elizabeth BroadwaySources: collegesportingnews.com, meacsports.com, Rattler Football 2002 Media Guide