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Q&A with Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley

For Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley, the 2011 recruiting class was all about toughening the Bears defensively and adding guys who are ready to play.

Morgan's class includes 12 defensive prospects and eight junior-college players.

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NamePositionHometownHigh School / Community College
Damarco BisbeeDLLansing, Mich.J.W. Sexton HS
Calvin FullerLBAiken, S.C.Georgia Military
Moses SkillonQBHollywood, Fla.Hallandale HS
Jamil LawsonDTNorfolk, Va.Booker T. Washington HS
Anthony DraytonWRFort Lauderdale, Fla.Stranahan HS
Seth HigginsQBEdgewoodEdgewood HS
Tierney YatesLBLos Angeles, Calif.Baskerville CC
Tyrell OkoroOLOzone Park, N.Y.Bayside High HS
Cordell RobinsonLBLos Angeles, Calif.Pasadena CC
Kris WestphalTEGaithersburgGaithersburg HS
Lakendrick RossDE/DTPortsmouth, Va.IC Norcum HS
Denzel StanbackTEWashington D.C.Friendship HS
Thomas PerryLBColerain, N.C.Bertie HS
Jeffrey PerryCBMirmar, Fla.Miramar HS
Joseph WilsonOTChicago, Ill.College of Dupage
Kyle BellDE/DTVisalia, Calif.College of Sequoias
Randon KeyDTNewport News, Va.Fork Union Military
Earvin GonzalezKVisalia, Calif.College of Sequoias
Tony MackCBLadson, S.C.Feather River CC

Hill-Eley spoke to Recruiting Report this week about Morgan State's 2011 class.

Q&A with Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley

Overall, how do you feel about this 2011 class?

"Well I think we addressed our needs. We wanted to get bigger as a team. I thought we were kind of small in some places, so we definitely wanted to get bigger. We addressed some defensive needs at linebacker, and we always want to get front-seven guys on the D-line, and [add guys on] the O-line. We were able to [add players to] those lines, and a couple of good quarterbacks in there."

You touched on this a little bit, but the defensive side of the ball was a clear priority. Talk about the emphasis you put there in recruiting.

"Well, we went the JC route as well because we needed some quick fixes and some high-caliber guys on that side. We focused on the defensive side … because we were No. 1 in the country three years ago, and last year we were around No. 40 or something. So when we looked back at our scheme, we wanted to beef up the defensive side. When you look at kids like Jamil Lawson, a 6-5, 340-pound defensive tackle, Damarco Bisbee, who's 6-3, 280, we wanted to put some beef up front. And kids like Chris Outten at linebacker can come in and be impact players, as well as Cordell Robinson. We'll be able to put some guys in that position that could really change the tempo of the game for us."

You're bringing in two quarterbacks in Edgewood's Seth Higgins and Moses Skillon from Hollywood, Fla. What do you like about them?

"Well, we're hoping that they all come in with the intention of just getting better, learning the system and adding some range. To get a 6-4 guy from right here [in Higgins] who throws the ball well, makes great decisions with the football and is also a good runner [was important]. Moses is a 6-5, 200-some pound kid out of Florida who can make all the throws. He threw for 28 touchdowns, 2,000 yards last year. ... When you look at the quarterbacks, we feel confident that Delonte Williams can get it done for us. Another [guy we like at QB] is Josh Council. It could go either way at that position. ... So we definitely needed, as a program, to add some athletic players [to our QB group]. We'll be a lot better."

Locally, you signed Higgins and Kris Westphal, a tight end from Gaithersburg, and Denzel Stanback, a tight end from Washington. How did you feel about in-state recruiting this year?

"It's a little down from what we normally get locally, but it all goes to the spirit of the time with everything that's going on. You have a lot of situations now when the pitch of 'stay close to home' doesn't really work with kids because they want to get away from home because things are so bad. So it's been tough keeping those high-level student-athletes at home. We're getting the same type of student-athletes, but they're coming here from other areas for the same reason – they want to get away from home as well. Budget-wise, it puts some constraints on us to make sure we spread the money evenly [to travel for recruiting] to get them. But I'm sure as the program increases, we'll be able to improve and get back to getting more local guys."

Is Earvin Gonzalez the heir apparent to Kemarr Scarlett at kicker?

"We got Gonzalez because he can punt as well as kick. We have Nick Adams, who was our punter last year, and he has done a good job for us. But at every level for every position, you need competition. We also have Abraham Mercado, who did the backup kicking for us last year. We're just bringing Gonzalez in to compete and see which one of those guys wins out. But Abraham has been here, waited his turn, and if his consistency stays up, he'll be in there."

You're adding eight junior college guys in this class. Will most of them contribute this year?

"With junior college guys, you normally don't recruit any of them to sit. You look at [Chris] Outten and [Cordell] Robinson, those linebacker guys. Those are the types of guys that we're looking at to take the field right away. Then [Randon] Key and Tony Mack, the cornerback, [plus] Kyle Bell, another D-tackle/D-end. Those guys, you bring them in from the junior-college level to step in and help you out right away."

Who are the early impact guys among the freshmen?

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"The only freshmen that we probably will have do something right away will end up being Jamil Lawson or Lakendrick Ross – some of those defensive guys who clearly have proven to be strong – or [Damarco] Bisbee. Guys who are strong enough to play at our level right away."

Was there any need you didn't fill?

"We were able to get all the positions filled. We're exhausted right now with money. But it seems like the positions we put on the board as needs in the beginning, we ended up filling."

Heading in to spring, are you happy with where your team is at? What are your major concerns right now?

"Well, we've got to get better offensively. We have to find a way to become more explosive and get into the end zone. Just getting better offensively will help us overall as a team. We were down defensively, but [that could] probably [be due to] playing more reps on the defensive side of the ball because of turnovers and three-and-outs. As we get better offensively, I think the whole team gets better. It comes down to [limiting the] amount of time the defense is on the field, which also gets us the opportunity to put some points on the board."

Baltimore Sun photo of Donald Hill-Eley by Kim Hairston / Sept. 26, 2009

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