Center Keith Hill and wide receiver Robert Artisst will be the only seniors starting for Howard University when it plays Division II Virginia State in its homecoming game Saturday at RFK Stadium.
Coach Floyd Keith will start five freshmen and eight sophomores for the Bison (2-3).
Quarterback Raymond Gray and tailback Bufus Outlaw, both seniors, recently have lost their starting spots. Sophomore Sandy Nichols replaced Gray and freshman Melvin Sutton starts instead of Outlaw.
Sophomore Keith Newsome will start at defensive end for the Bison, replacing senior Reggie Johnson. When practice began this week, Newsome, 5 foot 10 and 175 pounds, was a defensive back.
Newsome will probably be matched against Trojan tackle Michael Rudisell, who is 6-3 and weighs 250 pounds.
"Pound for pound, he (Newsome) is one of the best hitters on the football field," said Carl Angelo, the Bison defensive coordinator. "We anticipate him doing a good job."
The Bison are healthier than at any time since preseason practice. They had no major injuries in last week's 31-27 victory over Delaware State.
Even healthy, however, the Bison must do something about a defense that is yielding 26.8 points per game. New members of the defensive line this week will be freshman Ben Tynes at tackle and sophomore Harold Gilkey at nose guard.
Howard has defeated Virginia State in nine of their last 10 games, but run-oriented offenses such as the Trojans' have given the Bison trouble this season. Howard gave up 337 rushing yards to Delaware State, which entered the game last in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in total offense.
Virginia State, who are 4-1 after a 17-14 loss to Elizabeth City last week, gets most of its offense from Bernie Jackson (313 yards on 70 carries) and Perry Riley (199 yards on 53 carries).