It seems only fitting that Grambling State, renowned for its “road show” that dates back to the late Eddie Robinson’s heyday, should bring in a coach named Broadway.
Rod Broadway is the new leader of the traditionally strong program, whose fortunes dipped to only three wins in 2006 and a third place finish in the Western Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
And that, no less, only one year after the Tigers had won the league and national black college championships.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do to get Grambling back where it belongs, at the head of the class in the SWAC,” said Broadway, who led North Carolina Central to a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and national black college crown in 2006.
“But I like the nucleus of this team. I like what we were able to accomplish in the spring. We’ve got good athletes who worked very hard and know that, with the same type of work ethic, they can succeed this season.”
There are 14 starters and 35 letter winners returning from last year’s club that dropped its final four games.
Quarterback Brandon Landers, one of only two players in the SWAC to pass for 2,000 or more yards in 2006, is back. He finished last season with 2,138 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and a league-leading average of 194.4 yards passing per game.
“I had my times when I struggled last year and the coaches sat me out,” said the former Monroe Carroll High School star, who was intermittently replaced by returning backup Larry Kerlegan. “But I stayed confident and didn’t lose hope and now I’m ready to have a really good year. I know a lot is riding on my shoulders. I want the responsibility that goes with leading the offense.”
Landers should be helped with the return of senior wide receiver Clyde Edwards, who led the SWAC in receptions and receiving yards per game (78.8) last year.
But two gaps on offense have to be fixed. Three-time team rushing leader Ab Kuuan is gone and there’s only two regulars returning to the interior.
“We’ll have to have some new players step up,” Broadway said. “But I am confident we’ve got those players.”
The defense could be the cornerstone of Grambling’s return to prominence.
Seven starters are back, including three members of the line, among them NFL prospect Jason Banks.
Moving Zaire Wilborn from the backfield to strongside linebacker could also was meant to help solve unit’s problems with inconsistency a year ago.
“We’ve got to be more aggressive on defense,” said Broadway. “The game is so much about speed and attacking and to succeed in an offensive-talented conference like the SWAC, we’re going to have to keep a lot of pressure on.”
– Associated Press
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