Quarterback Gilliam—his nickname comes from the street that bisects the campus—is a drop-back passer who threw 20 times a game last season. "A pass is just a long hand-off," Merritt says, but Gilliam's seem to be longer than most since he averaged 17 yards per completion. His more conventional hand-offs go to Alfred Reese, leading rusher and scorer who also does the placekicking.
It is talent like this that has prevented a Merritt team from finishing worse than 6-3. "A Negro boy has got to be motivated to win," says Merritt. "He hasn't had much opportunity. We teach him he can't afford to muff it."
Merritt and his chief recruiter, Shannon Little, are advocates of the hard sell, although Gilliam, the son of Defensive Coach Joe Gilliam Sr., was an easy catch.
"The reason I drive a Cadillac is not because I can afford it or because I like it," Merritt says. "I drive it because it is important to present a good appearance. Boys who live on a dirt floor are bound to be impressed by a man who drives a big car and dresses well."
Chances are they'll be impressed by that 11-0 record, too, Coach.
Montana has won all 20 of its regular-season games the past two years only to be soundly defeated by North Dakota State in the Camelia Bowl. Graduation decimated the defensive line and linebacking corps but the offense is well stocked with veterans in the backfield and interior. Delaware will be seeking its fourth straight Lambert Cup but without 15 of the starters who finished 9-2 in 1970. Coach Tubby Raymond anticipates another formidable ground attack and rushing defense. If Western Kentucky shores up its defense it could repeat as Ohio Valley Conference champion. Quarterback Leo Peckenpaugh and sophomore runners Clarence Jackson and John Embree make the offense go. Grambling Coach Eddie Robinson should notch his 200th career victory with at least seven more wins this fall. A smart set of offensive guards named Solomon (Freelon and Cannon) return from a 9-2 team. Thirteen veteran starters heighten Abilene Christian's chances but missing is Jim Lindsey, the college division's most offensive player ever. Ron Lauterbach takes his place at quarterback with a keener eye on the ground game. Don Harr set a school record with 1.106 yards rushing last year, so the Wildcats might again approach the 9-2 success level.