Hornet notebook: Freshman running back Chris-Ike emerging as star

Michael Chris-Ike

DOVER — Rod Milstead had a secret and wasn’t sure how long he would be able to keep it.

Over the last few weeks, the rest of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has learned what the Delaware State University football coach already knew.

Michael Chris-Ike can really play.

Injuries have forced the freshman into action and he’s answered the call. Chris-Ike has averaged 5.9 yards a carry in his last two games.

Chris-Ike did not play until Oct. 13 at Howard.

“We knew about him, we just didn’t share him with everyone else,” Milstead said.

With three running backs ahead of him on the depth chart at the start of the season, there wasn’t much playing time for Chris-Ike at first.

But when Mike Waters was injured before the Howard contest, the Hornets needed another power running back. So Chris-Ike was inserted into the rotation.

He scored a touchdown in his debut and added another this past week as the Hornets earned their first victory of the year by defeating North Carolina Central. He was honored with the MEAC Rookie of the Week award.

Chris-Ike was under the radar because he wasn’t highly recruited out of high school in Hamilton, Ontario.

“It’s a little harder to get recruited out of Canada to the states,” Chris-Ike said. “But (running back) coach Keiki (Misipeka) reached out and the rest is history.”

Milstead said the only reason the DSU staff heard about Chris-Ike was because a Hornet alumni reached out to the coaches.

“We rely a lot on our alumni,” Milstead said. “We always say if you see someone you think could help us, send us their film or send us their name.”

Milstead watched Chris-Ike’s film and was sold.

It wasn’t just the highlights the first-year coach liked. It was an interview Chris-Ike did that Milstead watched which sealed the deal.

“He said, ‘All the credit goes to my offensive line, they opened the holes and made it easy for me,’” Milstead said. “When I saw that, I knew this guy was very humble and I knew what he could do. I knew if we could get him in our program and get him tuned up right he could really help us.”

Chris-Ike had never been to Delaware before he received the offer from DSU.

“It was my first time coming here but I like it here,” Chris-Ike said. “I like the environment.”

Chris-Ike recorded a career-high 127 yards against North Carolina Central. He has only 31 carries this year and has 183 yards.

Milstead said Waters is close to coming back after missing the last three games due to injury. But they still plan to use Chris-Ike.
And he gives a complement to senior running back Brycen Alleyne, someone who Milstead said he wants Chris-Ike to learn from.

“We got a Brycen Alleyne,” Milstead said. “He doesn’t want to miss a play and that’s the best teacher for Chris-Ike right now. And when Michael is in the game, Brycen is on the sidelines cheering him on. There’s no hatred, there’s just building. That’s what we need, our older guys teaching our younger guys how to play at this level.”

Chris-Ike at 6-foot-2 is a tough adjustment for defenders after the shifty 5-foot-6 Alleyne is on the field.

“He’s a big body,” Alleyne said. “It’s like thunder and lightning. He’ll come in there and get the tough yards. He’s like a bulldozer.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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