Grambling settles on starters at receiver and running back positions

After a spirited fall camp, Mario Louis and Dezmond Spivey have nailed down the top receivers spots at Grambling, though Mississippi State transfer Charles Bailey will appear as the principal third wideout.

Long-time followers of Grambling football under Doug Williams, who previously served as coach at his alma mater from 1998-2003, will remember that his offenses often spread into a three-receiver format — so Bailey will get his share of touches.

Louis, who was third on the team with 16 catches last year for 284 yards and a touchdown, wowed fans during a preseason scrimmage when, on a 3rd-and-5 play from the offense’s 25-yard line, newly named starting passer D.J. Williams tossed a lo-o-o-ng pass to Louis — who caught the ball in stride to easily score. Spivey, whose father Garland was a teammate in the 1970s with just-returned Grambling wide receivers coach Sammy White, had five catches in 2009 as a backup but was then slowed by injury. He was primarily used on special teams in 2008, with 76 punt returns for 2,511 yards.

Under White’s steady eye, each has quickly found his footing in the new system. “That’s the first guy I thought about joining the staff when I came back,” Williams said of White. “He’s always done that for us.”

Meanwhile, at running back, where Grambling must replace school record-holding rusher Frank Warren, Grambling will start freshman Juwan Martin against Alcorn State in this week’s season opening Port City Classic in Shreveport, La. The group of backups includes veteran Kenneth Batiste, a scatback who averaged 4.8 yards per rush with 74 yards on only 16 carries last season.

Martin, a 5-9, 210-pound prospect, “played quarterback (at Chicago’s DeLasalle High),” Williams said, “but is actually a running back. A lot of people were recruiting him, but we were fortunate to get him.”

Finally given the starting position during his junior year, Martin simply shot out of the gate — rushing for 695 yards and 11 touchdowns on 121 attempts, while passing for 1,288 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 89 of 171 attempts on the way to first-team all conference honors.

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