Coach Rod Broadway is unfazed, and not just because backup Danny Reyes has moved with smooth confidence into the starting role this spring.
No, Broadway has been there before. Not once (in 2008), but twice (in 2006).
“Both times,” Broadway said mildly, “we ended up as national champions.”
The replacement player in 2006, freshman quarterback Stadford Brown, ended up as one of four Sheridan Broadcasting Network All-America honorees during Broadway’s concluding season at North Carolina State.
Brown helped complete a 16-game regular-season winning streak for Broadway at NCCU, which had never won eight or more games in consecutive seasons before the future Grambling coach reeled off a string of three.
In 2006, all Brown did was step in and lead Central’s conference with 211 passing yards per game, while setting school and league records with 24 touchdown passes by a freshman. NCCU, which had never before won 11 games, was named Sheridan’s black college national champion for the first time since that poll began. The once-struggling Division II program claimed consecutive league titles for the first time since the early 1950s.
Two seasons later, starting quarterback Brandon Landers, a fifth-year senior after redshirting in 2005 at Grambling, was lost to academic problems as fall practice got underway. Landers had most recently posted career highs for completions, yards and touchdowns in GSU’s inaugural season under Broadway. That helped the Tigers advance to their fifth Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game since 2000, though they eventually fell to Jackson State.
In stepped Dillon, who started his collegiate career as a walk on, and had been third on the depth chart as recently as the spring of 2008. After some early season struggles, the Bogalusa native eventually helped Grambling move into the top spot on the Sheridan poll of historically black colleges after its November victory over Southern in the nationally televised Bayou Classic — and officially claimed the national crown two days after topping Jackson State in a SCG rematch. That was Grambling’s 10th straight victory of the season, and the program’s record 22nd SWAC title overall.
A season once pegged as a rebuilding year had turned into a championship run.
“Brandon was a big part of our team,” Dillon said, just before hoisting the Bayou Classic MVP trophy in 2008. “It was a big loss. We just tried to work it out.”
And once again, a Broadway-led squad ended up on top.
“I’m excited,” Broadway says, thinking about the last two times he’s made a change under center, “whether we get Greg back or not.”
Follow us on the Web —
TheDerisoReport on Facebook