Smith shoulder injury clouds DSU’s quarterback situation as opener nears

Shayne Smith. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — Just as head coach Rod Milstead thought the quarterback picture at Delaware State University was becoming clearer, he was thrown a curveball.

Shayne Smith, the projected starter, sprained his shoulder earlier this week.

That has opened the door for true freshman Tylik Bethea.

Milstead said the coaching staff will take the weekend to decide between the two. Either Smith or Bethea will be the starter next Thursday when the Hornets open their season at the University of Delaware.

“Right now we don’t know,” Milstead said. “Tylik has looked good. Shane fell the other day and kind of sprained his shoulder. We’ll sit him down for a day or two and we’ll see how he feels on Saturday.”

Milstead said Smith was likely going to win the job based on his experience, but the injury allowed Bethea to have more reps in practice to show the coaching staff what he can do.

“If you asked me the other day I would have said Shane was the guy,” Milstead said. “But all of a sudden he gets hurt and now Tylik is the guy. He’s stepped up. I don’t know right now. It’s tough.”

Smith is the only quarterback on the Delaware State roster with any Division I experience.

The junior sat out the 2016 season as a redshirt for the Hornets before being the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart in 2017. He did not receive any playing time then but did appear in four games during his sophomore season a year ago.

Smith started the 2018 season finale in Milstead’s first year as DSU’s coach. He quarterbacked the Hornets to a 41-7 victory over Division II Virginia Lynchburg and completed 16-of-19 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

Bethea, on the other hand, enrolled at DSU in the spring out of Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn N.Y. and was able to practice with the Hornets during spring drills. He was named New York City’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in high school.

The Hornets closed their preseason camp with a practice under the lights on Wednesday night. Bethea played the most at quarterback and Milstead liked what he saw.

“That’s one thing about him,” Milstead said. “He got an opportunity and he took advantage of it. When you do that, it makes decisions difficult for coaches. That’s a good problem to have. It’s a much better situation than last season.”

Delaware State has five QBs on the roster this season. After Smith and Bethea, Milstead said sophomore Jared Lewis has had a strong week of practice.

Two more freshmen shared reps during the summer Jabari Blake, who was hampered by a shoulder injury of his own, and Polytech High product Vincent Tascione.

Milstead credited all the quarterbacks for not making things easy on the coaches as they look for the starter.
“We know it’s going to be a hard decision,” Milstead said.

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