When Carey Bailey saw Hampton's massive defensive end Kendall Langford this summer, a certain NFL Hall of Famer came to mind.
"He's Reggie White," said Bailey, Howard's first-year head coach. "He's a big, powerful individual. He plays with a great motor. He's tenacious from the point of attack. He moves like a linebacker. He's a very active player. He has long arms. He can overpower you. He can run around you. He's what you want in a defensive lineman. He's going to be a real challenge for us throughout the game."
Howard will play host to Hampton, the three-time defending MEAC champion this Saturday in the season opener at William H. Greene Stadium in Washington, D.C. The Bison hope to contain Langford, the preseason conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Langford isn't Reggie White, but he is a load at 6 feet, 6 inches and 294 pounds. A year ago, he had 55 total tackles, 32 solo, 23 assisted, 15½ tackles for loss and eight sacks. Joe Taylor, Hampton's head coach, knows a little something about developing outstanding defensive players. Taylor had Justin Durant, a three-time conference Defensive Player of the Year, who is now a rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Justin did a great job for us," Taylor said. "He's playing well in Jacksonville. We're going to really miss him. He was a real valuable cog in what we were able to do the last four years.
"We're fortunate to have a guy like Kendall. He's the full package. He's a great character guy. He's soft-spoken, well liked and always has a smile on his face. He works hard in the weight room and on the practice field. He's strong and athletic. We're going to put the team on his back. He's going to be our leader."
The Pirates senior plays the game with power and speed. He has that combination, which makes him a difficult matchup for most teams in the league. Langford has the attributes that most NFL coaches like in defensive ends. In addition, Taylor believes the Pirates' success certainly has helped him.
"We've only been in practice a couple weeks and we've already had 10 scouts to come in to look at Kendall," Taylor said. "I think a lot of things are going to help Kendall. We've able to win a lot of games over the last three years. We had a good showing at the NFL combine last year. We've been able to gain some good exposure from all these things.
"The other thing [is] Kendall has played some good football. He moves very well for a big guy. He's a guy who can stop, change direction and get to the quarterback. That's really something for a guy his size."
Langford has the experience of playing some great teams, and Taylor has high expectations for him. "So goes Kendall, so goes Hampton," Taylor said. "We're going to need a big year from him. There's no question about it."
Based up what Langford's recent history, he should be on his way to having another stellar season.
• Grambling State quarterback Brandon Landers was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Week. Landers completed 19-of-36 passes for 303 yards, including four touchdown passes in the Tigers' 31-10 victory over Alcorn State.
• Grambling State will face Pittsburgh from the Big East conference in a nonconference game on the road this Saturday (ESPN 360, noon ET).
• Prairie View A&M linebacker Zach East was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. East had 13 tackles (nine solo) along with one sack, two-and-a-half tackles for loss and a fumble in a 34-14 win over Texas Southern.
• Bethune-Cookman senior quarterback Jimmie Russell and Delaware State's Russell Reeves were selected as the MEAC offensive and defensive players of the week respectively. Russell connected on 7-of-19 passes for 103 yards and rushed for 114 yards on 16 attempts with three TDs to lead the Wildcats to a 31-17 win over Jacksonville.
Reeves had 12 total tackles, seven solo and five assists including three for a loss of 16 yards in the Hornets' 23-18 win over No. 23 Coastal Carolina. In addition to the double-figure tackle performance, Reeves provided a balanced defensive outing with a sack for 13 yards, two pass break ups and a forced fumble in the win.
• Bethune-Cookman free safety Bobbie Williams picked off his 14th career pass in the win over Jacksonville. Williams is a candidate for the Buchanan Award, given to the nation's best defensive player.
• In recognition of Grambling State coaching legend Eddie Robinson, all SWAC teams will wear stickers in his honor. The stickers have his initials EGR over 408, which happened to be Robinson's career win total.
• Norfolk State will visit nationally-ranked Rutgers on Sept. 15. It will be the Spartans' first-ever game against a Division I-A team.
• Florida A&M's Philip Sylvester earned MEAC Rookie of the Week honors. Sylvester rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries with two TDs in his first collegiate start. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry and recorded four kickoff returns for 84 yards.
Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune.