Delaware State kicks off the 2014 season against first-time opponent Monmouth University on Saturday, August 30 at 1:00 pm. at Monmouth Stadium/Kessler Field in W. Long Branch N.J. The Hornets return 41 letter winners, including 12 starters from their 2013 squad, which posted a 5-6 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Two of DSU’s losses last season were to FCS National Champ North Dakota State and national runner-up Towson.
The big question facing the offense is how 2013 back-up Esayah Obado (r-so.) handles starting duties. Obado played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2013, completing 21-of-40 passes (52.5%) for 168 yards. He did not have a touchdown pass and threw two interceptions. Obado took nearly all of the snaps during the Hornets’ 2014 spring camp. Delaware State signed three quarterbacks during the off-season. Obado’s development will be critical to DSU’s hopes of maintaining its status as one of the MEAC’s top passing teams. The Hornets led the league in passing average at 225.0 yards per in 2013. DSU has a talented group of receivers this season. Delaware State’s top three pass catchers return for the 2014 season. Heading the list is wideout Milton Williams III (sr.), a 2013 All-MEAC First Team and Heritage Sports Radio Network Black College All-America First Team selection after leading the league with 58 receptions (5.3 pg) and 888 receiving yards (80.7 per game) last season. A 2014 Preseason All-MEAC First Team pick, Williams had five games with 100-or-more receiving yards and was tied for second in the MEAC with five touchdown catches during his junior season. The Hornets are hoping that a veteran stable of running backs and added depth along the offensive line will lead to significant improvement in their ground game. Delaware State was 10th out of 11 teams in the MEAC in rushing at 80.5 yards per game in 2013. DSU’s top returning rusher, Dae-Hon Cheung (jr.), ran for 361 yards (4.3 ypc) and two touchdowns on 83 carries last season. Cheung rushed for 410 yards and three touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012. Cheung was selection to the 2014 Preseason All-MEAC Third Team. In addition to more depth, the Hornets’ are counting on new offensive line coach Rod Milstead to help. Milstead is a former Delaware State All-America lineman and NFL standout. Tackles Jerron Searles, a 2014 Preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection, (r-so.) and Dimtri Hill (jr.) were regulars on the line last season, while Ernest Mengoni (so.) is the successor to former All–MEAC center Brandon Cunningham.
DSU’s questions on defense include remaking the linebacker corps and replacing two of its top four tacklers from last season. Despite the questions, the Hornet defense features four of the top players at their position in the MEAC. Defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (sr.) is a 2014 SportsNetwork FCS Preseason All-America Second Team selection after earning All-MEAC First Team honors as a junior in 2013. Gunter had 43 total tackles, including 10.5 behind the line-of-scrimmage; and was among the MEAC leaders with 4.5 sacks last season. A three-year starter, Gunter has 131 tackles, including 72 solo stops, 24 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks in his Hornet career. Defensive back Terrick Colston (jr.) was tops on the Hornets with 83 tackles (38 solo) last season. He was also credited with 4.5 tackles-for-loss, one pass break-up; and was tops among all MEAC players with four fumble recoveries a year ago. Colston was an All-MEAC Second Team pick after recording 95 tackles and three interceptions as a freshman in 2012. The Hornets are also hoping former All-MEAC safety Davon Moore (sr.) returns to form after missing the last six games of the 2013 season with a knee injury. Despite the lost time, Moore was fifth on the Hornets with 54 total tackles (37 solo) last season. As a sophomore in 2012, Moore was an All-MEAC First Team selection after recording 97 tackles, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. Ronald “J.R.” Robinson, a 2014 Preseason All-MEAC Third Team pick, established himself as one of the league’s top cornerbacks last season. Robinson had 31 tackles (20 solo) and was tied for eighth in the MEAC with three interceptions last season.
The Hawks begin their first season as a member of the Big South Conference, which includes Presbyterian, Liberty, Garner-Webb, Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina. Monmouth returns 60 lettermen and 14 starters from its 2013 squad, which posted a 6-6 overall record. The Hawks have an experienced quarterback in Brandon Hill (r-sr.; 6-5/230), who completed 181-of-323 passes for 2,361 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
Running back Kwabena Asante (r-sr.; 5-11/215) was “second” on the team with 1,090 yards last season. He ranks sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list entering the season. Wideout Neal Sterling (r-sr.; 6-4/235) caught 57 passes for 647 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. On defense, lineman Danell Leslie (so.; 6-2/225) was the team leader in sacks (7.5) and second in tackles-for-loss (13) last season. The Hawks were 17th among all FCS school in rushing defense at 122.8 yards per game in 2013. Former Dover (Del.) High School standout Eric Sumlin is a senior receiver for the Hawks. Sumlin had 17 catches for 265 yards and a touchdown as a junior in 2013.
This is the first meeting between the teams. Delaware State is 6-11 all-time vs. current members of the Big South Conference. The Hornets are 5-9 vs. Liberty and 1-2 against Coastal Carolina. DSU won its last two games against a Big South opponent, defeating former BSC member VMI in 2011 (24-21) and 2012 (17-10).