WILBERFORCE — Central State supporters will get a chance to preview the 2017 Marauders at this year’s Spring Game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at McPherson Stadium.
After a strong off season of recruiting, and with a core group of players returning, the Marauders are poised to climb up the standings in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference under head coach Cedric Pearl, who enters his fourth season at the CSU helm. The Marauders were 1-9 last season.
Pearl and the coaching staff are calling on the student body and CSU community to come out and support the program. All students who attend will be eligible to win prizes throughout the day, which include free gift certificates and Marauders gear. The Invincible Marching Marauders will also be performing throughout the afternoon. Fans are encouraged to stop by the Marauders information table to receive schedules for the upcoming season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
QB Competition: CSU enters 2017 with three quarterbacks on the roster. Last year’s starter Lavon Meeks accounted for 1,279 yards through the air and picked up another 544 yards with his legs last season. The coaching staff continues to work with the senior quarterback on decision making and ability to read defenses. Meeks will compete with junior college transfer Trent Mays (Hocking College) and returning senior Mikiel Clemons. All three quarterbacks are expected to see action on April 22.
RB Depth: While the departure of last year’s 1,000 yard rusher, De’Michael Jackson will be missed, CSU returns three running backs who each contributed in 2016. Darian Nelson, a 5-foot-8 senior from Cincinnati, proved to be a threat as a runner and pass catcher last season. Nelson carried the ball 52 times for 263 yards. He also hauled in 16 receptions for 189 yards. While Nelson gives the CSU offense the ability for big plays, Moses Vines returns after seeing the majority of his action in short yardage situations last season. Terraris Saffold, who caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in last year’s Homecoming victory over Lane College, will also compete for time in the Marauder backfield.
Returning Players Development: Led by returning All-SIAC Offensive lineman Darius Thomas, the 2016 freshman class is expected to make a significant contribution. The student-athletes enter their second year in the program. In addition to Thomas, freshman fullback Darius Meadors solidified himself as one of the top players at his position in the conference. After starting in all 10 games last season, offensive lineman Lawrence Mosley returns to help pave the way for the CSU rushing attack. On the defensive side, cornerback Devon Cunningham, linebacker Devin Waldon and defensive lineman Christian Lassiter are among the returning sophomores projected to start for a defense that lost eight starters to graduation last season.
Improved Kicking Game: A major shortcoming for the Marauders in 2016 was in the kicking game. CSU ranked last in the conference in field goals, attempting just one kick all season long. CSU hopes to dramatically improve in the category with the addition of Paul Ortiz. A right-footed kicker, Ortiz has demonstrated the ability to kick long range field goals and getting the necessary hang time on kickoffs. He will also serve as CSU’s primary punter. At the 2016 Kicking Super Camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., Ortiz ranked No. 1 in the punting competition and No. 3 in place kicking.
In addition to the student-athletes participating in the 2017 Spring Game, CSU will welcome a tremendous freshman signing class in the fall. For more information on CSU’s 2017 signing class, visit http://www.maraudersports.com/news/2017/2/3/football-marauders-release-2017-signing-class.aspx?path=football .
Story provided by the Central State University Athletic Department. (maraudersports.com)