Photo by Joseph Staszewski
By Joseph Staszewski

Campus Magnet Coach Eric Barnett isn’t shy about his feelings for senior quarterback Blessuan Austin. It’s something the 6-foot-2 senior’s teammates feel equally as strong about as well.

“I think he is the best quarterback in the city,” Barnett said.

The second year starter is certainly in the discussion and will look to add to that résumé this season. Barnett said he could already see improvements in his skills after attending college camps over the summer and commented on his greater propensity to be a leader. Austin, who will also play safety, threw for 601 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 291 yards and two scores.

“I thought he was the best [quarterback] since last year,” running back Joah Pryor said. “He’s going to get the job done for us this year.”

Austin says he can’t let the expectations or the pressure of his college recruitment get to him. He has interest as an athlete from Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn, Buffalo, Marshall, Towson and Stony Brook among others, but is still awaiting his first scholarship offers.

“I can’t let that get to my head,” Austin said. “I have to stay humble and help the team.”

He will have some help, starting with full back-turned-running back Pryor, a transfer from St. Anthony’s last season. He takes over for the graduated Asaikie Blake and is now more comfortable in the Bulldogs’ system. Drew Morgan, who is back from a torn ACL, steps into the fullback roll. Pryor has already caught the eye of Austin.

“I see a big difference,” he said. “He’s explosive and strong. He can’t get tackled in the open field.”

Stephon Hercules goes from tight end to wide receiver and will be joined by Ramone Alcock, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury, and Jabril Akassou. Dandre Johnson, a two-way player, will anchor an inexperienced offensive line and Charlie Driver will be the tight end.

Diquan Pegues moves from linebacker to defensive back to lead a strong and athletic defensive unit. Roy “Speedy” Harvey returns at cornerback and Demetrius Sumter is back at linebacker.

The Bulldogs’ 4-5 season and a first round playoff loss to Lincoln last year sticks with the returning players. They want to get back to being among the elite teams in the league. It has brought them closer together, gotten them in the weight room more consistently and left them hungry to improve off a sub-500 campaign.

“Last season we had a bad season,” Pegues said. “We really don’t want that to happen again this year, so the senior really step it up.”

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