| New Coach. New Team. New Direction
By: Tiffany Hoyd
A few weeks ago, Howard University’s football team held its first snap of spring football, under the new regime of the former Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, Mike London.
Howard is coming off of two seasons of losing records at 1-10, and most recently 2-9. Despite those losing records, Howard, under the stewardship of London, is expected to improve its game on both sides of the field.
Showing great promise on offense for next season, which begins in September, is former first place rusher in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Anthony Philyaw.
Philyaw, a junior, will enter the 2017 season coming off of a season of 1230 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 5.5 yards per carry last year, which placed him second in the MEAC division.
Other bright spots within the “Buffalo Soldiers,” are sophomore receiver Kyle Anthony, defensive end Elijah Anglin and cornerback Travon Hunt.
Anthony, a current sophomore, is coming off a six touchdowns, and first-week MEAC Rookie of the Week season. Anglin, a junior, was 11th in the MEAC in sacks, with four solo tackles for the 2016 season. Hunt, a grey shirt junior, sat the 2016 season with a injury but is a former MEAC All-American.
Others to look at during the spring would be Alonte Dunn (safety), Richard Johnson (defensive tackle) and Damion Gillespie (punter).
Despite only three weeks of spring training, Coach London believes the team is showing signs of growth.
“Thus far I've seen a big improvement in their work ethic and buy-in to our culture of accountability and responsibility,” Coach London said. “Particularity in the classroom. On the field, I want to see effort, energy, and a passion to execute what's being asked. All things that are controllable.”
London teaches principles of class, going to class, respect, and “Mission Possible.”
Helping London in his pursuit to change the culture at Howard is his brand new coaching staff, with the exception of second year Howard coach, and former Super Bowl winner, Cato June, who coaches defense.
Joining this season are: David Clowney (slots/h-backs), Mike London Jr. (wide receivers), Keenan Carter (defensive line), Chip West (co-defensive coordinator/corners/recruiting), Darryl Bullock (offensive line), Kenny Lucas (running backs/special teams), Brennan Marion (offensive coordinator), and Vincent Brown (assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers).
Howard’s defense showed to be steady last season but struggled in games offensively. In fact, Howard averaged nearly 100 yards less than rival Hampton University in a 34-7 loss at the highly coveted Nation’s Classic game. Marion is looking to change that around by running what he calls, “Go-Go-O,” referencing the D.C. originated, “Go-Go” music that has been noted as being, “a bass-heavy, funky variation of hip-hop.” Marion expects the team to then play a fast- paced high intensity Howard offense.
Defensively it will be interesting to see how former UConn Defensive Coordinator Vincent “The Undertaker” Brown can foster the productivity of a spotty Howard defense. Brown comes from UConn with a record of seventh in the red zone, for two out of his three seasons with the team.
Longtime Athletic Director Edward Hill Jr. believes the new atmosphere around the team bodes well for the success of the team.
“When you bring in a whole new atmosphere it gives hope that the program will reach the heights of the past,” Hill said. “Coach London is a proven winner, who has done it a different levels and now it’s his opportunity to do the same at Howard.”
Second-year coach June, wants “a falling in love with the game” from the team.
“The process of practice and preparation—not being a choir; genuine love for the work, which will in turn, turn into wins,” he said.
Howard’s athletic department has also undertaken renovations to give the team the best chance of winning.
“We are renovating our locker room and improving the press box area,” London said. :The football offices are under renovation as well, to provide a visual presentation of what's needed to promote the program.”