CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – This will be the fourth season of football for Division II Lincoln University since the school revived the program.

There are few things as difficult in college sports as trying to build a football program from the ground up, and the Lions have had their share of bumps in the road.  But they have continued to grow, and head coach OJ Abanishe says they have come a long way.

“We were kind of fledgling at first, going through the early process.   But with the building of our new stadium on campus and all of our new athletic facilities, everything is starting to come to fruition — we are looking like a college football program,” he says.  “The proof is in the pudding with our recruiting this past year.  We were able to get recruits this past year that we wouldn’t normally be able to get.   I think that is all a testament to the university’s commitment to the football program and athletics.”

The Lions went just 1-9 last season, but a closer look shows that they were very close to making a little more noise as three of those nine losses came by six points or less.

(Coach OJ Abanishe. Credit: Bill Rudick)

What does Coach Abanishe (right) think has to get better in 2011?

“The number one thing we have to do it cut down on turnovers,” he tells KYW Newsradio.   “That’s the number one thing.  Our defense last year was ranked in the top twenty of the nation, number three in the conference.  And we return everybody from our defense with the exception of (defensive back) Kwaheem Smith.  Our problem last year was that our offense was consistently putting our defense in bad situations.”

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One way to cut down on turnovers is to get consistent play at the quarterback position, and Abanishe says a new face at that position — and a member of that aforementioned recruiting class — has definitely turned heads.

“Doug Cook, our freshman quarterback, has definitely been what his stats have said and his first team All-American prep career has said as well.  He has been pretty sharp in camp.”

Cook comes to Lincoln from Dania Beach, Florida, where he was ranked as the #3 high school quarterback in the talent-rich state.

The Lions were picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the preseason Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association poll.

Lincoln kicks off the 2011 season on September 3rd, when they visit local rival Cheyney University.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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