By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Many people would have written off Silas Agyemang as a football player long ago. The Concord University defensive lineman has proven the conventional wisdom wrong.
Back in late September, the 280-pound junior had made 8 1/2 tackles for loss (TFLs) in just four games and was among the leaders in that category in NCAA Division II.
He’s been on the sidelines since being injured in Concord’s contest at Liberty University, but he still leads the team in TFLs with 12 1/2, and is tied for fifth in solo tackles (22) and is seventh in total tackles (33).
He also has two quarterback sacks, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry.
Head coach Garin Justice said in late September, “I think Silas has really come along as a player. He’s doing an excellent job.”
“And a lot that has to do with Silas, and a lot that has to do with (senior nose guard) Josh Miller. Josh is receiving a lot of those double-teams, which is allowing Silas to be on an island with the guard.”
“And credit to Silas, he’s capitalized on that opportunity. He’s done an excellent job of stepping into that role, and being a great defensive guy for us.”
Agyemang said, “I have to give props for my nose guard, Josh Miller. He always gets double-teamed, so that makes me only get one person on me, and that makes me got to make the plays. Basically it’s not me that makes the plays, it’s him, back, that makes the plays (but) I’m in the stats.”
He also credited Concord defensive line coach Pat Dawson. “Every week he makes sure we are prepared. ... Seriously, he’s a great guy, and everything he teaches me helps me a lot. I’m learning a lot from him.”
“We had a different (position) coach my freshman year. When (Dawson) came in, he saw what I could do, and he added more knowledge of what I can do, and put me in a better position.”
“When I came here, I was 240 (pounds). Now I’m 280. We’ve got a great strength and conditioning teacher (John Pennington). He helps us a lot. He puts us through a good workout. I’m still in shape, at 280, than I was at 240.”
From a technique standpoint, he had much to learn about Division II football as well. He did not come out for the sport until his junior year at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Va.
“I’m from Ghana, West Africa,” Agyemang explained. “I started playing football in my junior year of high school. I tried to play my sophomore year, but I got hurt (and) I had to sit out for a year.
“When I came (out), I didn’t really understand the game, but when I tried out, I (said), ‘OK, I’m going to give it a try.’ ”
“It still is difficult for me. Growing up, my game was soccer. That’s all I played. To switch it to some game like this, it’s still difficult, but I’ve been able to get the hang of it, and get better every year.”
He was good enough to make second-team all-conference as a sophomore last fall.
He noted, “I didn’t start my freshman year. I felt like I could have started, but the guys that were in front of me, they had more understanding of the game. As big as they were, I didn’t think the coach would put a little guy like me in.”
“But as the time goes on, I got big, and I got a little faster, and I got a little smarter about the college game.”
Justice said, “Silas is an interesting story. ... He’s grown up in front of us. Silas is the guy that plays football for the right reasons.
“He couldn’t tell you how many TFLs he has. He just plays the game because that’s the way Coach Dawson tells him to play. And he’s going to do it to the best of his ability, and he’s done an excellent job with that.”
After his father moved his family to northern Virginia, new options opened for the athletic young man who is determined on the field and good-natured otherwise.
“This is the dream, right now, getting (a scholarship) to play football,” said Agyemang, whose name is pronounced “Ah-jeh-man.” It didn’t even matter to him that for his first two years on the Concord roster, his last name was misspelled, without the final silent “g.”
Something that did matter was when he suffered a slight tear of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee, forcing him to be a spectator for Concord’s game at Seton Hill.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “You see everybody playing. I’m on the field and it seems that we’re about to lose, and I couldn’t run.”
“Being on the sideline, it was like, ‘Man, this is crazy!’ Seriously, when they scored the last touchdown, I thought like I was about to have a heart attack.”
“But I knew my team would pull through, so I didn’t have to worry about it. ... That’s the way a team always does. When the defense is down, the offense will pick us up, and when the offense is down, we know we’ve got to pick our offense up.”
He returned to action the week after the Seton Hill game, on Oct. 20 at Liberty, but was hobbled off in the second quarter of that contest and did not see action last week in Concord’s win over Fairmont State.
Agyemang said the CU defense, with or without him, doesn’t feel any pressure to “carry the team” when the offense has not been able to put up points.
“We always think about our game,” he said. “We dare (the opposition) to score. We don’t think about what the offense is going to do. It’s all about us, and we know if we don’t let them score, we’re going to win. That’s all we think about once we get on the field.”
— Contact Tom Bone at