Reporter Lawrence Davis III sits down with North Carolina Central University Interim Head Football Coach Granville Eastman to discuss his first plans as head coach, where the team was mentally after the 2017 season, and why 2018 could be their best year yet.
Coming in to the 2017 season, Coach Jerry Mack and the Eagles were riding the second longest win streak in MEAC conference history and won at least a share of the MEAC championship in the last three seasons, being the outright champion in 2016 and earning their first ever trip to play in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta.
That all came apart when the Eagles were upset at home by Norfolk State on October 21st to break the winning streak at 18. On November 11th, Senior Day would be foiled by a late-game Hail Mary pass by Bethune-Cookman to upset NCCU just seconds after fighting back to take the lead from BC and looking like things were secure.
Just seven days later, the mighty Maroon and Gray unit traveled to Greensboro to face their foe in the famous Aggie-Eagle Classic, where undefeated North Carolina A&T had their way with the hot-headed Eagles. NCCU saw several key players ejected in their losing effort, which was nothing new and the theme of the season. Coach Mack’s unit amassed 1110 penalty yards this season.
Well just in case you think things were dark for North Carolina Central, the guy who has really helped this program grow and go over the past four years decides to move on and explore other opportunities.
With several key pieces of the team gone and not having a head coach, North Carolina Central University is looking to turn a new leaf while keeping the program moving forward.
Athletic Director Ingrid Wicker McCree has turned to Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Granville Eastman to help lead the wave in this new era. Eastman was named to the Interim title on December 8th.
Coach Eastman will have his work cut out for him, having to find people to replace the production of guys like receiver Jacen Murphy or linebacker Reggie Hunter. NCCU will still return guys like FCS All-American safety Davonta Reynolds and Freshman phenom quarterback Chauncey Caldwell.
Every coach from last year other than Coach Mack will be returning, so familiarity and continuity is present among Coach Eastman’s staff. The new interim coach will begin his journey at the helm of the Eagle’s nest by tackling recruiting first, knowing that his staff is already in tact.
With some big recruits signing and some players that will be coming from a bench role to moving towards key actions, I believe Coach Eastman will have the Eagles ready to spread their wings and continue to soar through MEAC play come 2018.
(Photos Courtesy of Dyann Busse NCCU Athletics)