Commentary

Luke owns 26-8 career record as starter for Bulldogs

A look at the HBCU schools.

Updated: September 19, 2007, 7:18 PM ET
By Donald Hunt | Special to ESPN.com

The SWAC is loaded with great players like Jay Peck (Alabama State), Jarmaul George (Southern) and Zach East (Prairie View A&M) -- just to name a few.

HBCU football on ESPNU:

• Morgan State at Hampton
7:30 p.m. ET, Thursday

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However, Alabama A&M's brilliant quarterback Kelcy Luke has been the most impressive of the bunch. Luke, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior, has completed 55 of 90 attempts for 838 yards and 10 touchdowns, with just one interception. "He's what I call a special player," said Anthony Jones, Bulldogs head coach. "He's always working to get better. He has grown and developed every year. I think everyone can truly see his youth and development over last year."

Luke has guided the Bulldogs to a 3-0 record which includes wins over Tennessee State, Clark-Atlanta and Mississippi Valley State. Alabama A&M, the defending SWAC champions, will visit Grambling State (1-1) at Eddie Robinson Stadium on Saturday (ESPNU, 7 p.m.). "[Grambling State first-year coach] Rod Broadway has them playing well in all phases of the game," Jones said. "We got our hands full going on the road where we haven't had any success before. So, we're going to have to be ready to play against a good football team."

Alabama A&M defeated Grambling State 30-27 in overtime last season in Huntsville. It helped that Luke was the quarterback. He's been the difference maker for the Bulldogs.

Luke was a terrific star at Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. He originally signed with Auburn. He redshirted his only season with the Tigers. In 2004, he transferred to Alabama A&M, which was a great move for him. At that time, Auburn had Jason Campbell, who is now the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Ironically, Kelcy's older brother, Nic, also played for the Bulldogs. Nic transferred to Alabama A&M from the University of Alabama. They played together and helped the Bulldogs win the SWAC championship last year.

Nevertheless, Luke had an immediate impact on the program as the team's signal-caller. He has compiled a sensational 26-8 record as a starter. "Since Kelcy's been here, he's been a winner," Jones said. "His first year, he came in as a redshirt freshman and we ended up winning seven games under his leadership. He helped us as a freshman. Then, he was off and on injured during that time. The last two years he's helped us to win nine games a season."

In the past two years, Luke has taken Alabama A&M to back-to-back SWAC championship games. A year ago, the Bulldogs won the conference crown with a 9-3 record. Winning isn't the only thing that has brought him a lot of attention. He holds the school's career marks for passing yards (5,227), passing attempts (766), completions (432), TD passes (46) and total offense (6.520).

"His leadership and ability to understand the game along with making plays just elevates the play of everyone around him," Jones said. "He's a leader. He's very valuable to our football team. I'm blessed to have him."

HBCU notes

• Alabama State running back Jay Peck was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Peck had 35 carries for 146 yards. It was his second consecutive 100-yard game this season and the seventh of his career. Southern defensive end Vincent Lands was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. Land had eight tackles (five solo) to go along with 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Jaymar Johnson tallied 117 yards and a touchdown on two punt returns to help Jackson State defeat Texas Southern, 28-7. Johnson, Jackson State's senior wide receiver and return specialist, was named SWAC Specialist of the Week.

• Morgan State running back Chad Simpson rushed for a career-best 221 yards on 41 carries including a 33-yard TD as Morgan State fell in the final seconds to Winston-Salem State. Simpson was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Tyrone McGriff led Florida A&M in tackles with 11, eight solo, in a 30-17 win over Howard. McGriff was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week.

• Florida A&M running back Phillip Sylvester was one of two players to post more than 200 yards rushing in the MEAC last week. Sylvester rushed for 222 yards on 21 carries. He earned MEAC Rookie of the Week honors.

• Morgan State offensive tackle Dakarai Grimsley played extremely well against Winston-Salem State. Grimsley graded out a 98 percent on his assignments and collected five pancake blocks as he helped the Bears to 366 total offensive yards against the Rams.

• Hampton place-kicker Carlo Turavani was 8-for-8 on extra-point attempts, and he had a 28-yard field goal as the Pirates defeated North Carolina A&T, 59-14.

Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune.

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