Healthy running back Waters eyes big senior year for Hornets

A healthy Mike Waters gives the Hornets quite the weapon in the backfield. He set the DSU freshman record with 820 yards rushing in 2016 and also landed on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Third Team at the end of the year. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — Mike Waters isn’t bitter.

He acknowledges injuries are just part of the game of football.

So despite being sidelined for most of the last two seasons, Waters is only thinking about one thing — senior year.

“It’s a blessing to still be able to play football,” Waters said.

Waters is fully healthy as Delaware State is two weeks away from its season opener. The running back has been sidelined for more games than he’s played in over the last two seasons.

After a standout freshman campaign in 2016, Waters played in three games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury. He rehabbed to be healthy for the start of the 2018 season but again was bitten by the injury bug in the fifth game and was done for the year.

Waters said he was never going to let those injuries bother him.

“I’m putting it behind me,” Waters said. “You can’t control what happens on the field when you’re giving it your all. The only thing you control is your next step in your recovery. Whether it’s staying strong, going to treatment, getting back on the field to help my teammates.”

A healthy Waters gives the Hornets quite the weapon in the backfield.

He set the DSU freshman record with 820 yards rushing in 2016 and also landed on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Third Team at the end of the year. The 5-foot-8, 210-pounder finished third in the MEAC in rushing yards and led Delaware State in touchdowns that season.

He looked to be back to that form a year ago as he gained 107 rushing yards in the second game of the season against St. Francis before picking up his injury a few games later.

Waters said he rehabbed aggressively knowing that this year would be his last shot.

“When I get hurt I go straight to the training room and do whatever I can to get back on the field,” Waters said. “If I can’t play, then I want to help the young guys, help the people around me, read keys, whatever I can do to show them I’m still here.”

Waters was projected as one of the top two running backs in each of the past two seasons but the backfield is a lot deeper this season.

Bryant Dallas is the No. 1 back to begin the season. He is DSU’s top returning rusher after recording 349 yards.

Dallas received his opportunity as the primary back late in the 2018 season due to injuries. Of his 349 yards, 308 of them came in the final six contests.

Waters and Richard Harris, another senior who has worked his way back from injuries, will slot in behind Dallas to begin the season. Milford High product David Bowman and freshman Thomas Bertrand will also battle for time.

“Our running back core is really healthy,” said DSU coach Rod Milstead. “Dallas has the lead right now because he finished the season for us but these other guys are putting some pressure on him to get some playing time. That’s what we wanted. We wanted competition. I couldn’t even tell you all the people we will be taking to Newark right now because that’s how tight the competition is.”

“We got all different styles of running backs,” Waters said. “We all compliment each other. You can pick and choose which one you want.”

Waters was on the sidelines as the Hornets won three of their last four games to end the season in 2018. He’s excited to be a part of it this year.

“We’re trusting the process,” Waters said. “We all know we can do it. There’s a lot of seniors coming back who are pushing each of our teammates and setting the standard.”

Cavicante on HBCU award watch list

Delaware State linebacker Brian Cavicante has been named to the 2019 Watch List for the Black College Football Player of the Year Award.

The award is presented each year to the most outstanding player from a Historically Black College and University. The 2019 Watch List consists of 48 players from 27 HBCU football programs.

Last month, Cavicante was selected as the 2019 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. A 2018 All-MEAC First Team pick, the Hornet defensive standout was second in the league in total tackles (89) and third in tackles-per-game (8.1). In addition, he was second in the conference with 17 tackles-for-loss and tied for third with 50 unassisted tackles.

Cavicante enters has senior season as a Hornet with 233 career tackles, including 129 solo stops and 34 behind the line-of-scrimmage.
The winner of the 2019 Black College Football Player-of-the-Year Award will be honored with the Deacon Jones Trophy during the annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Feb. 15, 2020 in Atlanta, Ga. The four player-of-the-year finalists will be unveiled on Dec. 3, 2019.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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