In second year, Carter molds Hornets into his own team

“We tasked ourselves with going out and getting a great recruiting class to build on the class we had last year,” said DSU coach Kenny Carter. “I think we achieved that.” (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We tasked ourselves with going out and getting a great recruiting class to build on the class we had last year,” said DSU coach Kenny Carter. “I think we achieved that.” (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Kenny Carter’s makeover of the Delaware State football program took an even bigger step this offseason.

The second-year coach has given the team a new look for fall camp ahead of the Hornets’ season opener on Thursday, Sept. 1, at Delaware.

Only 12 players who were recruited by the previous coaching staff are left on the roster.

“That wasn’t a goal of ours; that’s just life,” Carter said. “Life happens sometimes. We pretty much have the guys that we wanted to bring in and we’re really happy with what we’ve got.”

The Hornets enter the season with just six seniors.

Aris Scott is the top returning wide receiver, center Ernest Mengoni will anchor the offensive line and the defense has seniors Rashawn Barrett at linebacker along with William Burton and Gary Melton Jr. in the secondary. Third-string quarterback Gilbert Rivera is the final senior on the team.

There are only 11 juniors on the squad too, led by All-MEAC linebacker Malik Harris, who is one of the 12 holdovers from the Kermit Blount era.

That makes for a young team — there are 43 freshmen on the roster. That means Carter is expecting a ton of contributions from those younger players.

“We tasked ourselves with going out and getting a great recruiting class to build on the class we had last year,” Carter said. “I think we achieved that. We’re bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic. The kids understand the system now and understand the standard now. It’s like night and day from last year.”

In total, Carter brought in 46 new players this offseason, combining all the freshmen scholarship players, walk-ons, transfers and players from prep schools.

With such a young core, Carter is interested in building a sustainable future at DelState. Even though the Hornets went 1-10 in Carter’s debut season, he’s expecting progress to show in the upcoming year.

“Last year was more of a transition and get a chance to get our hands around what we have,” he said. “We understand that expectation is only met with work and victory is a job. In order to achieve victory we’ve got to go to work and you can see that at practice.”

His players share that sentiment.

“The great thing is everyone is talented,” said sophomore quarterback Kobie Lain, who was the first player to commit to DSU under Carter.

“Everybody has something they can bring to the table,” Lain added. “We’re all young so we can grow together and we’ll be here for a long time. This isn’t something we’re trying to build for the upcoming season, this is something we’re trying to build for the next few years.”

And Carter feels a lot more comfortable with his roster this season.

“We watched as a complete staff every player that is on our roster now,” Carter said. “We didn’t have that luxury last year. We looked at every walk-on as if they were a scholarship guy and we’re very pleased with how things worked out. A lot of times in recruiting you hope what you see on film is what you get when they get here, and so far we’ve gotten everything that we thought we would get.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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