Delaware State did not have to go very far to land wide receiver Shaheer McBride and defensive back Akeem Green.
Hornets coach Al Lavan and his staff had to travel only 75 miles up the road to Philadelphia to recruit McBride and Green, who have helped Delaware State to a 2-0 record.
"We've been able to get some good players from the Philadelphia area," Lavan said. "So often times in the city, and especially the inner city, going back to when I came from the inner city of Newark, [N.J.], a long time ago, many people don't go into those areas very strongly. But for us, it's where we can locate the young men who want to come to Delaware State. Akeem and Shaheer are from those areas like Philadelphia where they can help build our program."
McBride was a terrific player at Chester High School, which is located on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Chester is better known for its basketball prowess (it produced the Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson). Nevertheless, McBride made his name on the gridiron and made an immediate impact at Delaware State.
He was named the MEAC Rookie of the Year in 2004, and he was an all-conference selection the past two seasons. In 2006, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver caught 55 passes for 852 yards and 11 touchdowns. Two games into his senior season, he has nine receptions for 138 yards and three TDs.
"We have a few more skilled players around him that we didn't have the first couple seasons," Lavan said. "I think that should enable McBride to continue to do what he's been doing. But more importantly, it enables us to be a little bit more balanced in our offensive approach in the passing game, which should make him more dangerous."
Green had to work a little harder to climb the ladder of success. He was not highly recruited coming out of Philly's Bok Vo-Tech High School. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior had to perform extremely well on special teams his first two seasons before moving into the starting lineup as a defensive back last year. Green has 16 total tackles (14 solo), 1½ tackles-for-loss and one interception in two games.
"Akeem Green has been a player who has made great strides in the last two years and especially the latter part of the 2006 season," Lavan said. "He made his mark as a special teams player. He's the guy we call upon to block punts. In fact, Akeem blocked three or four last year. He has made most of his improvement in the secondary. He has the ability to cover. We're delighted with his progress. He has received some recognition as a preseason all-conference pick."
McBride also garnered some preseason honors as the offensive player of the year. Like Green, McBride has lived up to all the preseason expectations.
"Shaheer and I are good friends," Green said. "We talk all the time. This is a big year for us. We want to do as well as we can. We would like to get to the playoffs. In order to do that, we're going to have to win some games on the road against some good teams like Hampton and South Carolina State."
Delaware State will visit Kent State in Ohio this Saturday. The Golden Flashes (1-1) are coming off a 56-20 loss Kentucky. McBride is looking forward to playing a major college program from the MAC.
"I've never played a Division I-A team before," McBride said. "This is going to be a good chance for Akeem and myself, as well as rest of the team, to play against a big school. This should be a good test for us."
• Ulysses Banks ran for a school-record 211 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries as Alabama A&M won its home opener over Division II Clark Atlanta, 41-10.
• Alabama A&M quarterback Kelcy Luke finished with a career-high 301 yards passing in the Bulldogs' victory, just missing the school record of 302. Luke completed 21 of 32 passes for four TDs and no interceptions. He was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week.
• Arkansas-Pine Bluff defensive end LaDarius Anthony was named the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Anthony had 11 total tackles (three solo), along with four tackles-for-loss and 2½ sacks in a conference win over Alcorn State.
• Southern QB Bryant Lee continues to play well. Lee was 16-of-28 for 206 yards and three TDs in a win over Mississippi Valley State. The Jaguars are 2-0 this season.
• Hampton QB T.J. Mitchell was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Mitchell connected on 19 of 36 passes for 310 yards and three TDs to help the Pirates get their first win.
• South Carolina State defensive back Markee Hamlin was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Hamlin led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles (four solo), with one for a loss of two yards in the victory over Bethune-Cookman.
• Bethune-Cookman's Corey Council was named the MEAC Special Teams Player of the Week. Council ran 98 yards for his first-ever kickoff-return touchdown against South Carolina State, tying him for second in the Wildcats' record book. He had three kickoff returns for 142 yards and one TD, as well as one punt return for 15 yards against the Bulldogs.
• Howard QB Brian Johnson compiled 323 total offensive yards and set career records in attempts (37), completions (21) and passing yards (244) in the Bison's home-opener loss to Hampton.
Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune.