Homegrown: Hornets gaining instate players

Dover High product Tavarus Sample came to the Hornets from Slippery Rock as a grad transfer this off-season. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Rod Milstead had a long list of things he wanted to focus on when he first took over the Delaware State University football program last year.

Near the top of the coach’s list was making instate recruiting a priority.

When the Hornets take the field for their season opener Thursday at 7 p.m. at the University of Delaware, 19 instate players will be on the roster. Milstead is hoping that number steadily increases throughout his tenure.

Milstead, a former All-American player at Delaware State, said a quick look at which past Hornet teams were successful shows just how important it is to keep the best Delaware high school talent home for their college careers.

“Looking back at the history of Delaware State, when we were on top in the MEAC and nationally, there was a host of Delaware kids on the roster,” Milstead said “Over the years, when I’ve looked at the rosters, it’s been getting smaller and smaller from Delaware kids.”

Milstead said he felt like the Hornets got away from recruiting instate players over the last decade.

Ex-Dover Senator Tavarus Sample, left, is one of 16 Delawareans brought in by Rod Milstead after he was named DSU head coach in the spring of 2018. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“We branched out nationally with guys from Samoa, California, Hawaii and Florida, that’s good as well, but Delaware State hasn’t been known to be a team that recruits nationally,” Milstead said. “I changed the recruiting model. We’re going to recruit Delaware first, then we’ll branch out six hours in every direction. There’s a lot of talent in Delaware.”

Three projected DSU starters for Thursday’s night’s game are from Delaware.

Hodgson Vo-Tech product Dwight Chavis is the starting center while two defenders have local ties. Delmar High grad Brooks Parker will start at outside linebacker and Mount Pleasant High’s Nigel Bynum will be one of the starting cornerbacks.

Of the 19 Delawareans on the squad, 16 were brought in by Milstead after he was named head coach in the spring of 2018.

That includes Dover High’s Tavarus Sample, who transferred from Slippery Rock as a grad transfer this off-season.

David Bowman out of Milford High started for the Hornets in the secondary last year as a true freshman. He has since shifted over to the offensive side of the ball to join the running back core.

True freshman Will Burke of Caesar Rodney High is expected to feature on the the defensive line this sea-son after walking on over the summer.

Other Delawareans on the roster are wide receiver Corahn Alleyne (Delaware Military Academy), defensive lineman Tyreek Booker (Newark High), offensive lineman Will Brandes (Smyrna High), offensive lineman Ritchy Corvil (Milford High), defensive back Daniel Douglas (Hodgson), defensive back Jawain Granger (Caravel Academy), tight end Austin Gretencord (Caesar Rodney High), Esaias Guthrie (Middletown High), linebacker Brandon Shimko (Hodgson), Vincent Tascione (Polytech) and running back Taj Washington (Delaware Gamecocks).

“People have said for years, ‘Oh, there’s no talent in Delaware,’ I beg to differ on that,” Milstead said. “Look at our team now. You see a lot of kids from Delaware who will get playing time for us.”

An added bonus of keeping Delaware products close to home is bigger crowds, Milstead adds.

“I love Delaware kids,” Milstead said. “Getting them here will build up our fan base and fill our stands up. They will help turn this into a championship program and we’re going to do that by starting right here in our state with our own homegrown guys. So all their moms, dads and grandparents can come right here to Dover to watch them play.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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