2013 record: 4-8 (4-4 MEAC)
Biggest Losses: Antoine Chisholm, Tyler Delbert, Carvin Johnson
Key Returners: QB Bryan Bailey, RB Jorian Washington, WR Twarn Mixson, DE Miles Grooms
Offense: After getting off to a slow start, the Hampton offense turned into a decent one late in the 2013 season. With offensive guru Connell Maynor taking over the reigns as head coach, things should only get better in 2014.
The Pirates have a solid set of skill players, many of them underclassmen. Much of the team’s turnaround in conference play was due to a set of players in their first year in Blue and White. Quarterback Bryan Bailey came on strong in the second half of the season, throwing more touchdowns (9) than interceptions (8) and led the team to a 4-3 record when taking the majority of the snaps.
Returning with Bailey will be Twarn Mixson, who also had a solid first season, catching 22 passes for four touchdowns and an electrifying 18 yards per catch. Jorrian Washington, last season’s leading rusher is also a capable receiver, as he finished second on the team with 32 catches last year.
Defense: This is where the Pirates have their work cut out for them. They were decent against the pass (fifth overall), but awful against the run, giving up 2776 yards and 32 touchdowns. There are some talented players, though.
Miles Grooms had a big sophomore season, recording 18.5 tackles for loss including a team-high 9.5 sacks, earning HBCU Gameday All-American honors. Leading the way at linebacker will be Joshua Thorn, who finished third on the team with 115 tackles (12.5) for loss, and adding four sacks.
Position To Watch: Defensive Back. This was a position of strength for the team last year, but several of those players have exhausted their eligibility.
Verdict: Between talented young players and a dynamic coach with an electrifying brand of success, Hampton is a team on the rise.