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HBCU Gameday Presents: Top Five WSSU teams of all-time

Winston-Salem State has had some great teams over the years, mostly in the last 40 years. We figured we’d take a look back at some of the best teams in the program’s history. Our criteria for consideration was simple: A team had to win a CIAA Championship, and teams couldn’t be nominated for back-to-back years. 
So with that in mind, here is what we came up with. 


Record: 9-2
Coach: Pete Richardson
CIAA Champs
Average Margin of Victory: 17.6 points
All-Conference: Fred Bowman (DL), Bobby Brown (KR), Everett Norwood

The least star-studded team on this list, Richardson’s gang started out the season 7-0, and suffered its first loss to Divsion I-AA Wofford by just seven points. The Rams would go on to win the CIAA Championship before bowing out 49-24 to Jacksonville State in the D2 playoffs.

Honorable Mention

Record: 9-3
Coach: Bill Hayes
CIAA Champs
Average Margin of Victory: 24.5
All-Conference: Vernard Dillard (OL), Broderick Graves (RB), Jerry Maynard (OL), Lonnie Pully (FB), Mark Wallace (LB)

Bill Hayes’ final team was one to remember. Led by a freshman quarterback from Fayetteville named Connell Maynor, WSSU won its fifth-straight CIAA Southern Division title. More importantly, though, the team beat Hampton 30-6 on a frigid day at Armstrong Field to win the CIAA Championship Game after four consecutive losses. Hayes would leave WSSU for rival North Carolina A&T after the season, but it wouldn’t be the last time Hayes or Maynor would feature in the WSSU football story.

5. 1988 

Record: 10-2
Coach: Pete Richardson 
CIAA Champs
Average Margin of Victory: 20.5
All-Conference: Leslie Barley (LB), Dino Beligtinis (K), Broderick Graves (RB), Jeff Kelly (DL), Anthony McCord (DB), Darren Peebles (OL), Roy Phillips (DL), Horrace Spencer (C), Clayton Suggs (OL), Keith Torrence (KR)

Much like the 1978 team, the ’88 Rams had a high standard to live up to. Unlike the ’78 Rams there wasn’t as much continuity going into the season. For the first time since the mid-1970s, Bill Hayes was no longer running the show, as he had moved on to coach rival A&T and taken quarterback Connell Maynor with him.

A young coach by the name of Pete Richardson was given the task of keeping up high bar set by his predecessor. Fortunately for Richard, Hayes had left him plenty to work with.

After disposing of Elon, WSSU went up against their mentor as the faced Hayes and A&T in Greensboro, the team came away with a 26-6 win over their rivals from Greensboro. The Rams rode the legs of running back Broderick Graves (1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns) and a defense that allowed just 15 points per game.

4. 2000

Record: 9-3, CIAA Champs
Coach: Kermit Blount
Average Margin of Victory: 23
All-Conference: Bryan Andrews (OL), Carnell Brown (LB), Calvin Bryant (LB), Aaron Felderspiel (OL), Eric Hargrove (DB), Stephen Isadore (DL), Stephon Kelly (S), Robert Mackey (DE), Terrie Newkirk (RB), Ronald Pegues (OL), Corey Williams (DL),Tory Woodbury (QB), Arnell Wooten (TE)

After climbing the CIAA mountain top in 1999, the Rams brought back a number of talented players from the previous year’s squad, including quarterback Tory Woodbury. The season started off promising with wins against South Carolina State and Bowie State, but took a 40-6 loss to Hampton. The team responded by winning the CIAA Championship, edging out Virginia Union in the title game before losing to Tuskegee in the Pioneer Bowl.

3. 1978 

Record: 11-1
Coach: Bill Hayes
CIAA Champs
Average Margin of Victory: 22
All-Conference: Kermit Blount (QB), Billy Diggs (WR), Baxter Harrington (LB), Willie Jordan (DL), Timmy Newsome (RB).

The 1978 Rams had tough shoes to fill, as they followed up the most successful team in school history. Working in their favor was the fact that most of the big factors from the ’77 Rams were back for another year, including the talented backfield of Kermit Blount and Tim Newsome. Newsome rushed for 1,377 yards and 14 TDs as WSSU kicked off the season by beating A&T for the second year in a row and went undefeated in the regular season. It then wiped the floor with Shaw in the CIAA Championship Game, winning 72-0.

The team advanced to the Division II playoffs for the first time in school history, beating California Polytechnic in the first round before bowing out to Delaware.

2. 2011 

Record: 13-1
Coach: Connell Maynor
CIAA Champs
Average Margin of Victory: 25.9
All-Conference: Markus Lawrence (OL), Darryll Billiott, Jr (OL), Daven Gray (OL), Kameron Smith (QB), Nick Cooper (RB), Alejandro Suarez (PK), Alton Keaton (DB), Akeem Ward (DL), Carlos Fields (LB), Dominique Fitzgerald (PR)

Two years removed from a 1-9 season and one from a 8-2 season that ended just short of a CIAA Championship berth, WSSU put it all together and ran through the CIAA with the first of two undefeated regular seasons. Led by running back Nick Cooper (1,808 yards and 22 touchdowns) and quarterback Kameron Smith (2,706 yards and 33 touchdowns) the Rams scored 50-plus points five times, and won two playoff games before bowing out to Wayne State in the national semifinals. It was the best season in school history up to that point, but the best was yet to come, which brings us to….

1. 2012 

Record: 14-1
Coach: Connell Maynor
CIAA Champs, NCAA Runner-Up
Average Margin of victory: 26.4
All-Conference: Kameron Smith (QB), Markus Lawrence (OL), Nathaniel Hurtung (OL), Jahuann Butler (WR), Barry Tripp (DL), Carlos Fields Jr (LB), Malcolm Rowe (DB), Jameze Massey (KR/PR), Landen Thayer (P), Jameie DeGeare (TE), Daven Gray (OL), Chris Bearden (OL), Donnie Owens (DL), Khendra Reid (LB)

Okay, so we broke our own rules, but did you honestly think we could put anyone else above this team? Coming off of the 2011 squad’s unprecedented success, some questioned how WSSU’s offense would run without the legs of Nick Cooper. The offense didn’t miss a beat, going from a run-first offense to an aireal assault that amassed 4,407 yards under the direction of Kam Smith, who threw for 43 touchdowns, which would have been enough to hand him the school’s all-time passing lead.

As great as the offense was in 2012, the maturation of the WSSU defense was just as important. Already a force, Carlos Fields took the mantle of defensive quarterback and ran a unit that dominated all season long and preserved the season with a goalline stand against IUP in the playoffs.

WSSU ultimately fell short in the national championship game, losing 35-7 to Valdosta State, but it was still a season that will be remembered for quite sometime to come.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mike Byrd

    June 7, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    I was all-conference in 2011.

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