Two NCCU starters suspended for season opener
When North Carolina Central released its two-deep depth chart for Saturday’s season opener at Duke, two players expected to make major contributions were missing.
Graduate transfer defensive end Randy Anyanwu and junior wide receiver Jalen Wilkes were left off the chart. Both were expected to start this season for the No. 24 Eagles. Wilkes, the leading returning receiver, is still listed on the complete team roster. Anyanwu, who transferred to N.C. Central from the University of Buffalo, isn’t listed on the roster. Both were suspended for a violation of team rules, head coach Jerry Mack said Tuesday afternoon.
“Hopefully they can get some things together and we will have a chance to get them back for the second game of the season,” Mack said.
When asked if they were definitely coming back for week two, Sept. 6 against Shaw, Mack said he wasn’t ready to disclose that information and reiterated that he hopes they have an opportunity to come back. Both players were suspended last week, Mack said. The fourth-year coach wouldn’t go into details what the violations were, or if Wilkes and Anyanwu’s violations were related.
Anyanwu (6-2, 245) arrived in Durham in January and went through spring drills with the team, earning a starting spot at defensive end. Anyanwu played in 21 games in two seasons at Buffalo and was expected to be a nice replacement for all-conference performer Freddy Henry-Ajudua. Anyanwu is replaced on the two-deep by sophomore Kawuan Cox (6-2, 230). Cox played in 11 games as a true freshman last year, finishing with 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
In 2016, Wilkes (6-2, 190), from Greenville, S.C., caught 31 passes for 516 yards and five touchdowns. He caught three passes for 26 yards in N.C. Central’s 10-9 loss to Grambling in the Celebration Bowl in December. Wilkes started all 12 games for the Eagles last season and was expected to be a big part in the passing game again this year.