After impressive spring and summer football practices, seniors Herman Redden and James (Boo) Hunter eagerly looked forward to their final season at Howard.
But injuries, poor performances by many veterans and other problems have hurt the Bison and left Redden and Hunter, both considered good pro prospects, frustrated and disappointed.
"I certainly expected us to be better than we are at this point (3-4)," said Redden, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound corner-back.
Both Redden and Hunter, along with coaching staff, admit that two problems have been inconsistency on offense and too many penalties. In seven games the Bison have drawn 58 penalties and lost 632 yards.
The offense has stumbled its way through the season, but thanks to big efforts against Virginia State (33-0) and Hampton Institute (20-14), Howard is averaging 277 yards per game.
Hunter , the team's leading tackler and Redden know they must instill a little fire under the defensive unit to finish the season on a winning note.
Both are aiming for big games in their final home contest against struggling Southern (3-4-1) Saturday at RFK stadium at 1:30.
"A win agaisnt Southern would be the start of erasing some bad memories of this season," said Redden. "No team has overpowered us but the big plans have killed us, not to mention our own mistakes. And after you lose a few games, the team spirit goes down somewhat."
Hunter 6-2, 250 with great upper body strength insists his teammates haven't quit but feels that "some guys just didn't perform well when we needed them.
"When you have to play freshmen who aren't ready, you're going to get hurt," said Hunter. "We've played three of the toughest black schools in the country and they took advantage of our weaknesses."
Despite Howard's roller-coaster season, Redden and Hunter have continued to draw the notice of several NFL scouts.
Hunter has 43 first hits, 15 assists and seven quarterback sacks in 5 1/2 games.
"I hurt my knee in a scrimmage and it's just now completely healthy," said Hunter. "I set a goal of 10 sacks and I'm close to that. But you feel better getting them if the team is winning. I've talked to a few scouts and I know they're watching me. I think I've played well all year and I plan to put out even more these last three games."
Howard coach Doug Porter calls Hunter "the most underrated player on the team."
"He's consistent and is definately the foundation for our defense," said Porter.
Southern basically a running team, lost its coach, Charlie Bates, two weeks ago following a player boycott. Six runners have rushed for more than 100 yards with Randy Knighten, a 6-2, 192-pound fullback, the work-horse with 512 yards on 79 carries and two TDs.