By Gary Axelbank
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 14- Last week, the NJCAA recognized three Monroe Mustangs playmakers as top-returners for the upcoming 2014 football season. Quarterback Clayton Turner, running back Robert Jackson, and wide receiver Jaquan Spann were cited for their achievements in Monroe's groundbreaking 2013 season and as important cogs in the future. Also two defensive players, tackle Elijah Young and safety Leonardo Lorenzo, were recognized.
For a team that relied on stellar defense to achieve a a stunning six-game winning streak that resulted in a 7-3 record in just their second varsity season, the NJCAA's notice of offensive playmakers is an excellent sign for 2014, but it might also contain some cautionary warnings.
"The emergence of our offensive weapons, especially in the running game, helped support our strong defense last year," said Coach Terry Karg. "One of the challenges this season will be to replace many talented players who have moved on to play at NCAA level, but with the return of Turner, Jackson and Spann we hope to become more consistent on offense."
The development of running back Robert Jackson was a key to Monroe's success a year ago. The 5 foot 9 power half-back from Plainfield, NJ had more than 100 yards rushing in each of the Mustangs' last six games, coinciding with the win streak. His best game was the 176 yards he ate up against Thaddeus Stevens in a 26-6 win in late October.
Turner was another revelation on offense last year. The rangy 6 foot 4 signal-caller from Atlanta was injured in the season's regular season opener and he missed a month. But when he returned, he settled down the position, averaging 120 yards/game and throwing for 12 TD passes in the six games of the winning streak.
Spann caught 21 passes in his nine games as a freshman. His 336 yards were second on the team. The native of Newark, NJ had two games where he had five receptions and he hauled in three TD passes.
On defense, Young is a 6 foot, 260 pound sophomore from White Plains, NY. At 5 foot 8, 170, safety Lorenzo, who doubles as return-man extraordinaire, is a lightning-bolt of a player who hails from Miami, FL.
"We are appreciative the NJCAA has recognized these returning players," Coach Karg said. "We are very aware that in order to be competitive in our conference it will take a total team effort on offense, defense and special teams. Last year, we took a positive step with our program and we're working hard through the preseason to prepare for the opponents that are on our 2014 schedule."
Get More Bronx News