Q&A with Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley

SunSpot Staff

Donald Hill-Eley was elevated to head coach of Morgan State's football program in February after serving one year as the team's offensive coordinator. He played college football at Virginia Union and went on to work as an assistant coach there.

Hill-Eley was a guest coach for the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts for two years and then worked was Hampton University's offensive coordinator from 1997-2000.

BaltimoreSun.com:What have you done since becoming head coach to put your fingerprints on this program.

Donald Hill-Eley:The biggest thing is cultivating community. We were able to have a youth camp for two weeks this summer and work with between 450-480 inner-city youths, and we also had a coaches clinic. We are trying to get people here on campus. One of things I wanted to do was restore the tradition of Morgan in the community.

BaltimoreSun.com: What preparation are you doing between now and the Aug. 31 opener against Gardner-Webb?

Donald Hill-Eley:The biggest thing is team unity. There is a lot of legacy and tradition here. We have to go out and win every play. I don't want our guys to focus only on the outcome of the game. I want them to focus on winning every play and let those things pile up.

BaltimoreSun.com:What type of offense will you run?

Donald Hill-Eley:We'll do a multiple pro scheme. The players who fit well into that scheme are tight end Vishante Sanicoe (6 feet 4, 245 pounds), who was the No. 12 tight end in the country last year. We're counting on his senior leadership along with tailback T.J. Stallings (Randallstown). T.J. has a lot of potential.

BaltimoreSun.com:What is your quarterback situation?

Donald Hill-Eley:We return Lejominick Washington, a seasoned guy who started eight games last year, and Jorge Pena, who played in seven games. I try to hold our quarterbacks to the same expectations as other positions - if you don't produce, you're relieved of your duties. That gives you a lot of competition and it blocks out the egotistical things about being a quarterback. It makes it a team position. Washington and Pena had productive springs. We have four quarterbacks coming into camp that I think are all capable of playing. I don't know too many teams that can say that.

BaltimoreSun.com:What do you think your chances are in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference?

Donald Hill-Eley:We're preparing to win the conference, not just to fit in the upper echelon. That's our expectation. Hampton and Florida A&M have had that rich tradition of winning year in and year out. That's our goal for this year. We don't just want to win one year and then take two or three years off.

BaltimoreSun.com:How do you plan to improve on last year's 2-9 finish? Donald Hill-Eley:You can look at a losing season two different ways. You can look at the record and say there is a lot of work to be done. But a lot of players got experience last year because players were hurt. We had a lot of injuries on defense last year and we didn't have the depth we have this year.

Games are won on the defensive side. We gave up over 200 yards rushing per game last year. We can't do that this year.

We're going into training camp with 90 players and a waiting list of 35 players who want to try out for the team. Because of gender-equity rules, we can only have 90 roster players the whole year. The only thing we're able to do is have a tryout camp in September and we'll put together a database of who those players are.

BaltimoreSun.com:Your motto for the season is "Against all odds." Why?

Donald Hill-Eley: The team hasn't really won in 22 years and really, the proof is in the pudding. No one believes it until they see it. The coaching staff gets in at 6 a.m. and leaves at 9 p.m. I think that work ethic sparked interest in our players because we had 52 of them stay here this summer to work out instead of going home.

Things aren't going to change by sitting around talking about it. You have to go out and do it.

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