South Carolina State suffered a rare stumble in 2010, having to settle for a shared title after winning the MEAC two consecutive years. But, so far, the Bulldogs are winning the offseason — both in terms of accollades and headlines.
No sooner had Oliver “Buddy” Pough’s team completed its third straight FCS postseason appearance, when he began building what would be an acclaimed recruiting class. Donal Ware, from BoxToRow.com, hailed Pough’s 2011 group as the best among HBCUs for the second straight year — primarily on the strength of signing Carolina-area prospects. South Carolina State picked up three-star running back Julius Pendergrass, who had been offered by Kentucky and Arkansas; as well as offensive lineman Jairon Harrison, a two-star Scout.com recruit; and a pair of three-star running backs in Jalen Simmons and Deion Walker.
Pough figured, after spelling Derrick Wiley for departing long-time starting quarterback Malcolm Long in 2010, that he had that position nailed down, too. Sure, he’d have to update the playbook — Long was a dropback passer, while Wiley is more athletic — but, beyond that? Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.
Not so fast: For while, at least, it looked like South Carolina State might have been in the running for Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, before he decided in February to attend the University of Miami. He was coming off a year of ups and downs, passing for 2,050 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before falling out of favor with former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez and eventually being ruled ineligible for the Gator Bowl.
Forcier later confirmed visits to Arizona and Kansas State; he said Washington and FCS Montana were also considered. Forcier’s brother Chris plays for Furman, in nearby Greenville, S.C., and he would have been eligible immediately had he transferred down. Instead, Forcier will have to sit out at year in South Beach.
“We were recruiting him,” Pough said as the news broke, “and it appears it has come to an end.”
Wiley, a rising junior, is joined in the quarterback rotation by redshirt Teddarius Wiley, his younger brother; and Richard Cue.
South Carolina State will open the season on Sept. 1 at Central Michigan and travel to Indiana on Sept. 17. In between, the Bulldogs will have a Sept. 10 road game at Bethune-Cookman, which joined South Carolina State in the 2010 FCS playoffs after earning a three-way share of the MEAC title with Florida A&M. Pough’s squad opens its home schedule Sept. 24 against Delaware State. Other home games include North Carolina Central Oct. 8 for homecoming, Georgia State on Oct. 15, Florida A&M on Oct. 22 and North Carolina A&T on Nov. 12.