Hornets restock offensive line with recruits

DOVER — Five offensive linemen and a former Delaware high school Player of the Year highlighted Delaware State University’s recruiting class announced on Wednesday’s Early National Signing Day.

The Hornets inked eight recruits Wednesday. The group consists of five offensive linemen, two defensive backs and one defensive end.

Zaire Falls, Isaiah Cook, Diu Dau, Alfred Darlington and Joseph Maxwell III make up the offensive line recruits. Cook is out of Willingboro, New Jersey, Falls went to Myers Park High in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dau is out of Richard Montgomery High in Rockville Maryland, Darlington attended the Avalon School in Sterling, Virginia and Maxwell III is from Windsor Forest High in Savannah, Georgia.

With three starting offensive linemen set to graduate after this spring, restocking the line was a priority for DSU coach Rod Milstead.

“Anytime I can bring in offensive linemen who resemble me as a player I’m super excited,” said the former DSU All-American and Super Bowl champion. “These are five guys who are coming out of high school with big upside and a lot of athleticism. They’re probably not as big as some colleges might like but they fit what we are trying to do here, which is get more athletic guys on the line, guys that played multiple sports in high school who can show off their athleticism.”

The Hornets’ lone in-state signee for the early signing period was Hodgson Vo-Tech’s C.J. Henry.

Henry led the Silver Eagles to the Division I state championship in 2019 as a quarterback, on his way to winning the state’s Offensive Player of the Year award. However, the Hornets project Henry as a defensive back in college.

“I’ve made it my mission from day one to recruit Delaware first and that’s the kid who was high on my list,” Milstead said. “We’re excited to have him. I’ve heard so many stories about C.J. and people say, ‘Oh he’s not big enough’ or whatever, that was Rod Milstead coming out of high school. I want this place to be the laboratory of giving guys an opportunity and he’s going to be something for us down the road.”

Jasiyah Brooks, a defensive back from Bowie High in Maryland, and Omakus Langley, a defensive end out of out of Hillside High in New Jersey, round out the Hornet class. Milstead said Brooks is a phenomenal all-around athlete who can provide depth in the secondary while Langley can give the Hornets a pass rusher who is also stout against the run.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Milstead said there were some unique challenges in scouting and recruiting this cycle. Some players did not have a senior year of football, leaving coaches to watch tape from sophomore and junior seasons. Travel was limited as well so Milstead could make less in-person visits and watched numerous games and drills over the internet.

Still, Milstead said he felt his staff had some groundwork to build off from its recruiting before the pandemic arrived.

“We were kind of halfway through the cycle since you try to stay a year in advance,” Milstead said. “No one expected COVID to show up so we had to do things a little differently, relying on all our resources throughout the coaches with coaches we believe and videos we saw.”

The Hornets still have some openings to sign more recruits into the spring’s National Signing Day. Milstead said he’s looking for a tight end and a speedy receiver to fill those spots.