Hornets have plenty of offensive line expertise

DOVER — If a Delaware State offensive lineman ever needs some extra help, he’ll have plenty of people to ask.

While the Hornets have only one person with the official title of offensive line coach, two more coaches on staff, including the head coach, have ample experience in the trenches.

First-year coach Rod Milstead already has a lot on his plate. But as a former NFL offensive lineman himself, he wants to make sure the Hornets will be known as a team that has a strong line.

“Offensive line is my baby,” Milstead said. “It’s my legacy, it’s my everything.”

Milstead said there’s really three offensive line coaches on staff, led by offensive line coach Anthony Vitale. Then there’s Jeff Braxton moved over to Delaware State from Wesley College this offseason.

Braxton is in his fifth stint as an assistant at Delaware State. His title now is run-game coordinator and tight ends coach but he was previously an offensive line coach at DSU in 2007, the last time the Hornets won a conference championship.

Braxton was an offensive line coach at Wesley last season before moving across town.

And Milstead himself was previously an offensive line coach at Delaware State in 2014 for one season.

“I’m trying my best to stay back and let those guys do their thing but it’s so hard,” Milstead said. “I sit in their meetings, we talk things over, especially us three, and we come up with the best plan possible together.”

Vitale is in his first season at Delaware State. He had spent the last four years as the offensive line coach at Southwest Baptist in Missouri.

Rod Milstead

The trio has a young group to mold. There is not one senior projected to start on the offensive line this year.

And the players are excited to learn from a head coach who played nearly 10 years in the NFL.

“It’s a blessing that I’m so thankful for,” said junior center Cade Pedro. “He’s what I aspire to be one day. To have someone that has been in that position, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”

Everything at DelState is personal for Milstead. The first-year coach is an alum and was an All-American offensive lineman in his playing days.

But he admits offensive line is a little more personal to him and he feels a touch of extra pressure for his offensive line to deliver on the field.

“Everybody is going to be looking at our offensive line to see how well we progress because everybody knows the head coach is a NFL offensive lineman,” Milstead said. “It’s very, very personal to me. I want to make sure I live up to the billing.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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