Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Perhaps it is getting too cliche, corny or
common for coaches to emphasize the importance of conference games. It's
supposed to be simple. Win your conference, get the automatic bid to the FCS
While that may be the case for the large majority of FCS teams, in the
Southwestern Athletic Conference, those games make or break your season,
literally because the highest reward is winning the SWAC title.
If last year's title race was any indication, 2012 should put forth an even
Take, for example, Alabama State, which finished 8-3 overall and 7-2 in
conference. In the first eight weeks of the season, the Hornets had six wins
and their only loss came against FBS opponent Eastern Michigan, 14-7. They
then went 2-2 the rest of the season, losing to Alabama A&M by one point and
Southern by three points, and it cost them the Eastern Division title.
"It ached and hurt to know that we did not get an opportunity to play for the
championship," coach Reggie Barlow said.
"We know as a team and a coaching staff how we let both those games get away
from us. We had it in our grasp and didn't really take advantage of it."
After beginning the season with an 0-2 record, Alabama A&M reeled off seven
straight wins, lost to Jackson State, but won the finale at Prairie View A&M,
17-15, to clinch a spot in the SWAC title game. The Bulldogs went on to lose
to Grambling, 16-15, after leading by 15 at halftime. Coach Anthony Jones
shouldn't need to find any new motivation for his returning players.
"We're looking forward to having another successful year," Jones said. "We are
expecting our offense to lead us due to all 11 starters returning. They will
be expected to step up their game as competition will be high."
Defending champion Grambling State started 1-4, but after that it went on to
win its final seven games. It was coach Doug Williams' first year of his
second stint at the helm for Grambling. Even after a SWAC title, little time
was spent celebrating, while more time was spent acclimating.
"This year, I got a chance to let all the players go through our offseason
program," Williams said, "the coaches get acclimated with the guys and then
the fact that we had a good spring and a season behind, we have a better idea
of the players, the guys that we're going to have to depend on, and the guys,
what they can do and what they can't do."
Jackson State finished with a 9-2 record, including 7-2 against conference
opponents. In any other year, that would warrant an appearence in the SWAC
Championship Game. However, the NCAA is still serving the Tigers with a two-
year punishment for poor academic progress rates, and the conference is not
letting the Tigers play for the championship.
In the nation's power conferences like CAA Football, Big Sky, Missouri Valley
and Southern Conference, teams can survive seasons and hope for games after
the regular season even if they aren't the best team in its league or
In the SWAC, it is simple: If you don't win your conference games, you can't
win a championship.
"I was still disappointed at not going to the SWAC championship," Prairie View
A&M coach Heishma Northern said, "and some people still congratulated me on a
good season. But I was not satisfied as I want to change the culture here to
the point where if we don't win the championship, then it's not a good
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2012 SWAC race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
1. Alabama State
2. Alabama A&M
3. Jackson State
4. Alcorn State
5. Mississippi Valley State
1. Grambling State
2. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
3. Prairie View A&M
5. Texas Southern
1. ALABAMA STATE HORNETS (8-3 overall, 7-2 SWAC)
COACH: Reggie Barlow (27-29 in five seasons at Alabama State; 27-29 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (8 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Greg Jenkins, Sr. (125-of-210, 1,475 yards, 11 TD, 5 INT;
330 yards rushing, 7 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: FS Kejuan Riley, Sr. (75 TT, 1 TFL, 9 INT, 4 PBU, 13 PD)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: WR T.C. McWilliams, Sr. (35 receptions, 403 yards, 2 TD)
RB Isaiah Crowell, So. (University of Georgia transfer)
RB Quendarius McKibben, Jr. (87 carries, 257 yards, 3 TD)
WR Landon Jones, Sr.
WR Nehemiah Henry, Sr.
LT Terren Jones, Sr.
C Edmund Davis, Jr.
LG Jaron Bush, So.
RT Ron Hall, Jr.
DE Carlton Jones, Jr. (38 TT, 11 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 PD, 2 FR, 1 INT)
DT DreQuay Everett, Sr. (33 TT, 6 TFL, 1.5 sacks)
DT Derrick Billups, Jr.
DL Brandon Roberts, Sr.
CB Saeed Lee, Sr. (45 TT, 3 TFL, 5 INT, 11 PBU, 16 PD)
LB Brandon Slater, Jr. (59 TT, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 FF, 2 FR)
LB Winton Steward, Sr.
PK/P Bobby Wenzig, Sr. (31-of-35 PAT, 15-of-25 FG; 70 punts, 41.5 YPP)
BIGGEST LOSS: WR Nick Andrews (78 receptions, 1,095 yards, 10 TD)
OUTLOOK: Alabama State should contend for another run at a SWAC title in 2012
after coming short for a berth in the championship game last season. The
Hornets' three losses last year came by 11 points, which included a one-point
loss to Alabama A&M and a three-point loss to Southern. Both losses cost
Alabama State the Eastern Division title for the second straight year. Eight
starters return to an offense that averaged 26.7 points per game. It all
starts with quarterback Greg Jenkins, who is a dual-threat problem for SWAC
defenses. Jones, an All-America tackle, and four other experienced
counterparts should have no trouble clearing paths for Georgia transfer and
2011 SEC Freshman of the Year Isiah Crowell. Off-the-field troubles forced the
Bulldogs to release their freshmen star after he was arrested with felony
weapons charges. Head coach Reggie Barlow will have to develop Crowell into
the Hornets' scheme without any more issues outside of football. Alabama
State's defense should be the team's strength. The Hornets ranked in the top
five in the FCS in takeaways for the second straight season, leading the SWAC
with 22 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries. Passing will not be easy for
opponents. The secondary features two All-America returnees in free safety
Kejuan Riley and cornerback Saeed Lee. Riley enters his final season for
Hornets with 17 career interceptions - tying the program record - while Lee
finished last season with 16 passes defended. ASU opens its new on-campus
stadium on Thanksgiving Day versus Tuskegee. By then, the Hornets will
know whether they will play for a SWAC title.
Sept. 2 - vs. Bethune-Cookman (Orlando, Fla.)
Sept. 8 - vs. Mississippi Valley State
Sept. 15 - at Grambling State
Sept. 20 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sept. 29 - at Alcorn State
Oct. 6 - vs. Texas Southern
Oct. 13 - vs. Jackson State
Oct. 27 - vs. Alabama A&M
Nov. 3 - at Prairie View A&M
Nov. 10 - at Southern
Nov. 22 - vs. Tuskegee
2. ALABAMA A&M BULLDOGS (3-8 overall; 2-7 SWAC)
COACH: Anthony Jones (72-45 in nine seasons at Alabama A&M; 90-57 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (11 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Kaderius Lacey, Sr. (285 carries, 1,143 yards, 8 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: SS/LB Vernon Marshall, Sr. (75 TT, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Deaunte Mason, Sr. (160-of-325, 1,996 yards, 11 TD, 7
INT; 512 rushing yards, 3 TD)
WR G'Alonzo Milton, Sr. (29 receptions, 380 yards, 8 TD)
WR Montarius Smith, So. (49 receptions, 669 yards)
WR/KR Terrance Pride, So. (21 KR, 497 yards)
OL Jamal Johnson-Webb, Sr.
OL Justin Goodrich, Jr.
OL Joaquenssi Eugene, Sr.
LB Denzel Cotton, Sr. (42 TT, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT)
DL Montay Rover, Sr. (37 TT, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR)
DL Phillip Harvey, Jr.
DB Derrick Harris, Jr.
DB A. J. Clark, Jr.
PK/P Chance Wilson, Sr. (11-of-15 FG)
BIGGEST LOSS: DE Corey Hart (57 TT, 32 TFL, 17 sacks, 1 INT, 3 FR, 2 FF)
OUTLOOK: After losing a 16-15 heartbreaker in the SWAC title game (when they
had a 15-0 halftime lead) the Bulldogs will have a great shot of making their
sixth SWAC championship game in the last 10 years. Every starter
returns to an offense led by All-SWAC and 3 1/2-year signal-caller Deaunte
Mason. With Lacey coming off a breakout season in which he rushed for 1,143
yards and eight touchdowns, expect his numbers to grow with two years of
eligibility still remaining. The Bulldogs won't have to rely on the run game
too heavily with returning wide receivers such as Milton (29 receptions, 8 TD)
and Smith (49 receptions, 669 yards). On defense, the Bulldogs lost five
starters, including All-America Corey Hart and All-SWAC performer Willie
Fuller, but Marshall and Cotton return to lead a defense that only allowed 311
yards per contest in 2011, good for 17th in the FCS. Coach Anthony Jones and
his team understand what it takes to win the conference, however. Three of the
team's last four games are on the road, at Alabama State, Jackson State and
SEC foe Auburn. The Bulldogs should have no problem putting up points on the
scoreboard, but the defense will have to earn its respect.
Sept. 1 - at Tuskegee
Sept. 8 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sept. 15 - vs. Prairie View A&M
Sept. 22 - at Texas Southern
Sept. 29 - vs. Grambling State
Oct. 6 - at Mississippi Valley State
Oct. 13 - vs. Alcorn State
Oct. 27 - at Alabama State
Nov. 3 - vs. Southern
Nov. 10 - at Jackson State
Nov. 17 - at Auburn
3. JACKSON STATE TIGERS (9-2 overall, 7-2 SWAC)
COACH: Rick Comegy (41-26 in six seasons at Jackson State; 149-77 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR Rico Richardson, Sr. (37 receptions, 896 yards, 11 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DE Joseph LeBeau, Sr. (75 TT, 22.5 TFL, 16 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 PD,
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Dedric McDonald, Sr.
QB Tevin Chapman, Jr.
RB Tommy Gooden, Jr. (89 carries, 597 yards, 3 TD)
RB B.J. Lee, Sr. (66 carries, 348 yards, 2 TD)
WR Michael Perkins, So. (24 receptions, 325 yards)
TE E.J. Drewrey, Sr.
OL Zion Pyatt, Sr.
OL Stephen Capler, Sr.
OL Maurice Brooks, Sr.
NT Jonathan Billups, Sr. (47 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR)
DL Luis McLeod, Sr.
DE Javarius Conner, Sr.
LB Milton Patterson, Sr. (56 TT, 12 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT)
LB Todd Wilcher, Jr. (76 TT, 7 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
CB Qua Cox, Jr. (34 TT, 3 INT, 9 PBU)
DB Richard Hughes, Sr.
DB Mike Hill, Sr.
PK Jabril Smith, Sr. (7-of-12 FG)
BIGGEST LOSSES: QB Casey Therriault (271-of-452, 3,791 yards, 27 TD, 15 INT; 9
rushing TD) and OL Vincent Jones (Jones died in mid-July following a battle
agaisnt cancer. He enrolled at Jackson State last fall as a freshman.)
OUTLOOK: The biggest challenge for the Tigers heading into the season will be
trying to replace Therriault, their record-setting quarterback. The two
quarterbacks returning have very little collegiate experience. McDonald played
in seven games last season, completing two passes, but as a redshirt freshman
in 2010 he threw for 539 yards and two touchdowns. Last year's leading
rushers, Gooden and Lee, return and should carry the offense. Speedy wide
receiver Richardson led the FCS in averaging 23 yards per catch. The Tigers
have another standout in Drewrey, making the switch from wide receiver
to tight end and is a huge target for any quarterback at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds.
Defensively, JSU should be solid. All-America defensive lineman LeBeau returns
after collecting 16 sacks in 2011 - a program record - not to mention 22.5
tackles for a loss. Cox leads an experienced secondary which only allowed 166
yards passing per game last year. The Tigers will be hungry after they
finished atop the Eastern Division last year with a 7-2 SWAC record, but were
not allowed to play in the conference championship game as a result of APR
penalties. Jackson State will play the 2012 season honoring fallen teammate
Sept. 1 - at Mississippi State
Sept. 8 - vs. Tennessee State (Memphis, Tenn.)
Sept. 15 - at Texas Southern
Sept. 22 - vs. Southern
Sept. 29 - vs. Prairie View A&M
Oct. 6 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Oct. 13 - at Alabama State
Oct. 20 - vs. Mississippi Valley State
Nov. 3 - at Grambling State
Nov. 10 - vs. Alabama A&M
Nov. 17 - vs. Alcorn State
4. ALCORN STATE BRAVES (2-8 overall, 1-8 SWAC)
COACH: Jay Hopson (first season at Alcorn State and overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (8 offense/9 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: WR/KR Terrance Lewis, Sr. (28 receptions, 489 yards, 5 TD; 12
PR for 157 yards, 1 TD, 21 KR, 492 yards, 2 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB William Thomas (66 TT, 9 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 3 FF)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Darius Smith, Jr. (69-of-180, 1,044 yards, 9 TD, 11 INT)
QB Jordan Payne, Fr.
WR Rodney Whitmore, Jr. (11 receptions, 240 yards, 2 TD)
RB Arnold Walker, Jr. (142 carries, 713 yards, 3 TD)
RB, Anthony Williams, So. (51 carries, 218 yards, 1 TD)
OL Jacody Rose, Jr.
OL Brandon McDowell, Sr.
OL Johnathan Scott, So.
LB Robert Gainwell, Sr. (44 TT, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 PD, 2 FF)
CB Casey Freeman, So. (66 TT, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT)
CB Brandon Thompson, Sr. (55 TT, 2 INT, 7 PBU, 9 PD, 3 FR, 1 FF)
CB Jacques Caldwell, So.
DL Jermaine Turner, So. (29 TT, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks)
DL Mauola Malaga, So.
DL Rickey Joseph, Jr.
BIGGEST LOSS: P/K Arturo Tamayo (69 punts, 41.6 YPP, 6-of-9 FG)
OUTLOOK: Alcorn State began its rebuilding process this offseason with the
hiring of Hopson, the first-ever white head coach in the history of the SWAC.
In the new era of Braves football, Hopson, who has stints as an assistant at
Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi, Michigan and Memphis, filled out his coaching
staff with former Alcorn State great Steve McNair's older brother Fred as a
quarterbacks coach and Tony Pecoraro from North Alabama to lead the defense.
Last season, the Braves recorded only one FCS victory against Mississippi
Valley State, and finished 109th offensively in the FCS with 285 yards per
game. One of the few bright spots for the Braves last year was stud kick
returner Lewis, who returns for his senior season. Lewis averaged 114.7 all-
purpose yards per game, had 28 receptions and five touchdowns as a receiver
and scored two touchdowns returning kickoffs, and one score returning punts.
It will take a couple years for Hopson to get the Braves competitive again. It
won't be easy in his first season because Alcorn State's out-of-conference
games are on the road at James Madison and Arkansas State.
Sept. 1 - vs. Grambling State (Shreveport, La.)
Sept. 8 - at James Madison
Sept. 15 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sept. 22 - at Arkansas State
Sept. 29 - vs. Alabama State
Oct. 6 - vs. Southern
Oct. 13 - at Alabama A&M
Oct. 20 - at Prairie View A&M
Nov. 3 - at Mississippi Valley State
Nov. 10 - vs. Texas Southern
Nov. 17 - at Jackson State
5. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE DELTA DEVILS (1-10 overall, 1-8 SWAC)
COACH: Karl Morgan (1-20 in two seasons at Mississippi Valley State; 1-20
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (9 offense/5 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Trey Bateaste, Sr. (139 carries, 543 yards, 3 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DL Leployer Franklin, Jr. (65 TT, 14 TFL, 3 sacks, 6 PBU)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: RB Brandon Stansell, Sr. (100 carries, 396 yards)
QB Garrick Jones, Sr. (66-of-139, 811 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT)
QB Eddie Ivory, Sr.
WR Kenneth Dabney, Jr. (29 receptions, 286 yards, 1 TD)
WR Julian Stafford, So.
OL Wesley Steele, Jr.
OL Martin Davis, Jr.
OL Antonio Griggs, Jr.
OL Kevin James, Jr.
DL Javaris Fritz, Sr. (28 TT, 5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU)
DL Robert Simpson, Jr. (32 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 PD, 1 FF)
LB Marcus Thompson, Jr. (57 TT, 6 TFL, 2 sacks)
LB Keven Woods, Sr.
LB Rico Mazique, Sr.
DB Carlos Hollis, Sr. (41 TT, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FR)
DB Marquez Floyd, Sr. (18 TT, 1.5 TFL,2 INT, 1 PBU, 3 PD, 1 FR)
DB Jeremy Langston, Sr.
PK/P Carlos Sanchez, Sr. (38.8 yards per punt)
BIGGEST LOSS: WR Paul Cox (36 receptions, 619 yards, 3 TD)
OUTLOOK: It seems easy to quickly dismiss Mississippi Valley State. After all,
the program has only one win over the last two seasons. A complete turnaround
will not be likely, or easy for that matter, but there were some signs last
year that showed the Delta Devils can only become better. Four of last year's
10 defeats were by less than 10 points, including a 17-16 loss against rival
Jackson State and as a six-point overtime loss versus SWAC champion Grambling
State. MVSU returns three experienced, but inconsistent quarterbacks who are
battling it out for the starting position in fall camp, and both running backs
who took the majority of snaps last fall. There is no question the offense
needs to be much better in 2012 in order to build a better foundation for the
future. The Delta Devils averaged only 14.7 points per game, while allowing
31.8 last year and even worse, finished third from last in the FCS with 255
yards per game on offense. The good news for Morgan and his team is that as
brutal as the last two seasons have been, it can only get better from here on
Sept. 1 - vs. Concordia (Ala.)
Sept. 8 - at Alabama State
Sept. 13 - at Southern
Sept. 22 - at Northwestern State
Oct. 6 - vs. Alabama A&M
Oct. 13 - vs. Grambling State
Oct. 20 - at Jackson State
Oct. 27 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Nov. 3 - vs. Alcorn State
Nov. 10 - vs. Prairie View A&M
Nov. 17 - at Texas Southern
1. GRAMBLING STATE TIGERS (8-4 overall, 6-3 SWAC)
COACH: Doug Williams (61-21 in seven seasons at Grambling State; 61-21
STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (7 offense/4 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Dawrence Roberts, Jr. (199 carries, 1,102 yards, 8 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Jacarde Carter, Jr. (66 TT, 6.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FR)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB D.J. Williams, So. (75-of-148, 1,102 yards, 14 TD, 7
QB Frank Rivers, So. (55-of-114, 1,102 yards, 10 TD, 10 INT)
WR Anthony McGee, So.
RB Juwan Martin, So.
RT Sanford Banks, Sr.
OL Clint Marsh, Jr.
LG Ahston Green, Sr.
DL Devon Carter, So.
DL Jomarcus Savage, Sr. (46 TT, 13 TFL, 8 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 PD)
DB Edward Patterson, Sr. (47 TT, 4.5 TFL, 2 INT, 6 PBU)
DB Trey Williams, Jr. (40 TT, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PBU, 2 FF)
DB David Smith, So. (36 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks)
DB Naquan Smith, Sr. (71 TT, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 6 PD)
DB Tyree Hollins, So.
BIGGEST LOSSES: LB Cliff Exama (136 TT, 19 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 6 PD)
and WR Mario Louis (51 receptions, 1,129 yards, 18 TD)
OUTLOOK: Defending SWAC champion Grambling State overcame a 1-4 start last
season, winning the remaining games on its schedule and eventually beating
Alabama A&M in the title game after trailing by 15 points at halftime. The
Tigers are expected to repeat their title, but it won't be easy replacing a
defense that lost a lot of talented players. Coach Doug Williams will rely on
a young and inexperienced defensive line and linebacking corps. Gone is Exama,
a tackling machine and the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, but the Tigers
can depend on Carter, Patterson and Savage to step up and provide leadership.
Grambling is led on offense by Roberts, the 2011 SWAC rushing leader. In only
10 games, Roberts scored eight times on the ground and averaged 110 yards per
contest. Coach Williams' son D.J. looks to have the edge over fellow sophomore
Rivers in 2012 at quarterback. As a freshman, Williams threw for 1,102 yards,
14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Grambling is the clear favorite to win
the Western Division, but its defense needs to only bend and not break. The
Tigers play at TCU in Week 2 but have the advantage of hosting both Alabama
State and Jackson State.
Sept. 1 - vs. Alcorn State (Shreveport, La.)
Sept. 8 - at TCU
Sept. 15 - vs. Alabama State
Sept. 29 - at Alabama A&M
Oct. 6 - vs. Prairie View A&M (Dallas)
Oct. 13 - at Mississippi Valley State
Oct. 20 - vs. Virginia University of Lynchburg
Oct. 27 - at Texas Southern
Nov. 3 - vs. Jackson State
Nov. 10 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Nov. 24 - vs. Southern (New Orleans)
2. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF GOLDEN LIONS (6-5 overall, 5-4 SWAC)
COACH: Monte Coleman (19-25 in four seasons at Arkansas-Pine Bluff; 19-25
STARTERS RETURNING: 20 (10 offense/ 10 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Ben Anderson, So. (166-of-309, 1,876 yards, 10 TD, 9 INT)
DEFENSIVE STAR: LB Bill Ross, Sr. (107 TT, 11 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 INT, 5 PD)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: WR Dezmond Beverly, Jr. (34 receptions, 294 yards, 2 TD)
WR Mareo Howard, Sr. (15 receptions, 244 yards, 2 TD)
RB Dennis Jenkins, Jr. (88 carries, 373 yards, 2 TD)
RB Justin Billings, Jr. (43 carries, 251 yards, 1 TD)
C Chris Wilson, Sr.
LG Ryan Savage, Sr.
LT Terron Armstead, Sr.
DB Jarvis Webb, Sr. (52 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT, 9 PBU, 12 PD)
DL Brandon Thurmond, Sr. (25 TT, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 PBU)
DL Damien Lee, So. (20 TT, 5.5 TFL, 3 FF)
LB Jer-ryan Harris, Jr.
S Ryan Shaw (50 TT, 1 TFL, 3 INT, 5 PD, 2 FR, 3 FF)
P Aaron Godwin, Sr.
BIGGEST LOSS: DL Michael Johnson (37 TT, 11 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 FF)
OUTLOOK: Arkansas-Pine Bluff is coming off a six-win season in which four of
its five losses came agaisnt the top three teams in the Eastern Division and
the top team in the Western Division. The Gold Lions are led on offense by the
2011 SWAC freshmen of the year, Anderson. He threw for 1,876 yards and 10
touchdowns but also accounted for nine interceptions. Protecting Anderson will
be Armstead, an All-SWAC tackle. The loss of All-SWAC performer Johnson will
be hard to fill, but Thurmond and Lee have the experience to further develop a
young defense. Ross is an underrated defender who accounted for 107 total
tackles last year, while Harris was the 2010 SWAC Freshman of the Year who
faced injuries last season. Webb and Shaw together had six interceptions and
17 passes deflected in 2011 and will be the best pass defenders for the Golden
Sept. 1 - vs. Langston
Sept. 8 - vs. Alabama A&M
Sept. 15 - at Alcorn State
Sept. 20 - at Alabama State
Sept. 29 - at Tennessee State
Oct. 6 - vs. Jackson State
Oct. 20 - at Southern
Oct. 27 - vs. Mississippi Valley State
Nov. 3 - at Texas Southern
Nov. 10 - at Grambling State
Nov. 17 - vs. Prairie View A&M
3. PRAIRIE VIEW A&M PANTHERS (5-6 overall, 5-4 SWAC)
COACH: Heishma Northern (5-6 in one season at Prairie View A&M; 5-6 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 16 (9 offense/7 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Jerry Lovelocke, So. (1,020 yards passing, 10 TD; 318 yards
rushing, 3 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DL Jarvis Wilson, Sr. (59 TT, 11 TFL, 7 sacks)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: RB Michael Dyer, Jr. (Auburn/Arkansas State transfer)
RB Fred Anderson, So. (126 carries, 540 yards, 5 TD)
RB Le'Darryae Groover, Jr. (120 carries, 519 yards, 3 TD)
QB Deauntre Smiley, So.
WR Spencer Nelson, Sr. (53 receptions, 659 yards, 5 TD)
WR Greg Thurmond, So. (24 receptions, 382 yards, 4 TD)
OL Tre Glover, So.
OL Aneus Ruiz, Jr.
C Dillon Bonnet, So.
DL Adrian Middleton, So.
DT Ryan Love, Sr. (42 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack)
DT Dwayne Chappell (35 TT, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 FF)
MLB Elton Holmes, Sr. (52 TT, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 PD)
OLB Raheem Cardwell, Jr. (66 TT, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU)
S Brian Medlock, Sr. (59 TT, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 5 PD)
DB Adrien Grant, Jr.
P Travis Jatzlau, So. (39.2 yards per punt)
PK Chris Barrick, So.
BIGGEST LOSS: LB Adrian Hamilton (81 TT, 24.5 TFL, 22 sacks, 6 FF)
OUTLOOK: Prairie View A&M can expect to count on experience in 2012 as it
returns 16 starters. The defense returns seven starters, including three on
the defensive line. Replacing the SWAC's all-time sack leader, Hamilton, won't
be easy, but Northern will be able to rely on Wilson to carry on the tradition
of athletic defensive playmakers. The good news for the Panthers offense is
the addition of Dyer, the former Auburn Tiger and first-team All-SEC running
back. He was named offensive MVP of the 2011 BCS National Championship game,
but off the field legal issues forced him to leave Auburn. Dyer then
transferred to Arkansas State where he was declared ineligible in July. In two
seasons with the Tigers, Dyer rushed for 2,335 yards and 15 touchdowns. The
future is bright with Dyer and other young running backs and a quarterback who
can be productive in their spread offense (the Panthers led the SWAC in rushing
offense in 2011). The bad news? Everyone returns on offense except two All-
America lineman. The strength of the Panthers has to be the wide receivers
unit, as most of the returnees contributed significantly. Northern and his
staff had a fairly impressive first year, but the 2012 schedule features only
two true home games. Starting the right foundation for the future might take
Sept. 1 - vs. Texas Southern (Houston)
Sept. 8 - at Lamar
Sept. 15 - at Alabama A&M
Sept. 22 - at North Dakota State
Sept. 29 - at Jackson State
Oct. 6 - vs. Grambling State (Dallas)
Oct. 20 - vs. Alcorn State
Oct. 27 - vs. Southern (Shreveport, La.)
Nov. 3 - vs. Alabama State
Nov. 10 - at Mississippi Valley State
Nov. 17 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
4. SOUTHERN JAGUARS (4-7 overall, 4-5 SWAC)
COACH: Lyvonia "Stump" Mitchell (6-16 in two seasons at Southern; 14-40
STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (8 offense/6 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: RB Sylvester Nzekwe, Jr. (144 carries, 545 yards, 3 TD; 27
receptions, 246 yards, 1 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DB/KR Virgil Williams, Jr. (37 TT, 12 PBU, 1 FF, 12 PD; 18 KR,
532 yards, 29.6 average)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Dray Joseph, Jr. (113-of-212, 1,544 yards, 13 TD, 9 INT)
QB J.P. Douglass, So. (95-of-189, 1,282 yards, 10 TD, 6 INT)
WR Michael Berry, Sr. (39 receptions, 508 yards, 7 TD)
WR Lee Doss, Jr. (34 receptions, 410 yards, 4 TD)
WR Charles Hawkins, Sr. (23 receptions, 406 yards, 2 TD)
OL Chris Browne, Sr.
C Aaron Hall, Jr.
OL Taylon Jones, Jr.
DT Casey Narcisse, Sr.
DT Kadeem Lewis, So.
LB Anthony Balancier, Jr. (37 TT, 2 TFL, 1 INT)
DB Levi Jackson, Sr. (68 TT, 1.5 TFL, 8 PBU, 8 PD, 1 FR)
BIGGEST LOSS: LB Jamie Payton (93 TT, 12 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 6 PD, 3 FR, 1 FF)
OUTLOOK: Mitchell might be able to deal with two-and four-win campaigns in
his first two seasons a little easier, thanks to the NCAA finally lifting its
postseason ban on the program. It is clear the Jaguars are trying to get back
to the top of the conference behind their defense. Dawson Odums takes over as
the coordinator for a defense that gave up 375.6 yards per game in 2011. The
defensive line has a lot of underclassmen who have had to learn quickly along
the way. Balancier is a local player along with transfer Corey Roy who should
help fill the void that Payton left a year ago. Williams has developed into
one of the team's best defenders, both defending and breaking up 12 passes
last season, while Jackson also has shown strong athletic abilities in the
secondary. The offensive line brings back four starters who will try to pave
the way for their junior running back, Nzekwe, who should improve as a runner
and a pass catcher. The Jaguars lost four of their seven games by 13 points,
but need to have more consistency in quarterback play in order to win the
Sept. 1 - at New Mexico
Sept. 13 - vs. Mississippi Valley State
Sept. 22 - at Jackson State
Sept. 29 - vs. Florida A&M (Atlanta)
Oct. 6 - at Alcorn State
Oct. 13 - vs. Texas Southern
Oct. 20 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Oct. 27 - vs. Prairie View A&M (Shreveport, La.)
Nov. 3 - at Alabama A&M
Nov. 10 - vs. Alabama State
Nov. 24 - vs. Grambling State (New Orleans)
5. TEXAS SOUTHERN JAGUARS (4-7 overall, 2-7 SWAC)
COACH: Darrell Asberry (first season at Texas Southern, 40-25 overall)
STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (7 offense/8 defense)
OFFENSIVE STAR: QB Riko Smalls, Sr. (166-of-316, 2,177 yards, 12 TD, 9 INT;
215 rushing yards, 4 TD)
DEFENSIVE STAR: MLB William Parker, Sr. (61 TT, 10.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PBU, 3
PD, 2 FR)
OTHER KEY PLAYERS: QB Dantavious Parker, Sr. (10-of-23, 154 yards, 1 TD;
missed season due to injury)
RB Kendall Denson, So.
WR Donnie Davison, Sr. (20 receptions, 256 yards)
WR James Davis, Sr.
OL Ray Rodriquez, Sr.
OL Moses Alvidrez, Sr.
OL Marvin Hollie Jr., Jr.
OL Kenneth Hall, Jr.
OL Kendrick Williams, So.
DL Armir Bloom, So.
DL Ernest Gilley, Sr. (13 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 PBU, 3 PD)
DE Jamal Baker, So. (24 TT, 5 TFL, 2 sacks)
LB Samuel Gordy, Sr. (28 TT, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 3 PD)
LB Tyrell Jones, Jr. (29 TT, 5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF)
DB Tray Walker, So. (22 TT, 3 INT, 8 PBU, 11 PD, 1 FR)
DB Darveon Trahan, So. (33 TT, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD)
DB Eric Brown, Sr.
PK/P Robert Hersh, Sr. (missed 2011 due to injury)
BIGGEST LOSS: DL Marquis Jackson (50 TT, 18.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 5 PBU, 5 PD, 3 FF)
OUTLOOK: Texas Southern hopes to quickly forget a seven-loss season a year ago
with a new head coach, offense and $95 million stadium. The Tigers hired
Asberry from Shaw University to re-energize the program. Asberry is familiar
with the SWAC, after his years playing quarterback at Jackson State. Last
season, Texas Southern, which is no stranger to strong defense, won its
second consecutive FCS total defense title. The defensive line will be without
Jackson (transferred to Portland State), but the loss shouldn't hurt too badly
because Bloom, Gilley and Baker all resume duties as starters. The Tigers
secondary was very young last season. Leading the way was Walker, a freshman
who had 11 passes defended with three interceptions, and Derricus Purdy
returns after sitting out last season. Similarly, the Tigers missed PK/P
Hursh, who also sat out last season due to injury. Parker and Smalls should
compete for playing time as the lead signal-caller. Smalls filled in for the
injured Parker and didn't miss a beat, passing for 2,177 yards and 12
touchdowns, while rushing for four touchdowns. The offensive line brings back
every starter from 2011, but the backfield is a major question mark after it
lost Martin Gilbert and Marcus Wright, who accounted for over 1,400 yards and
16 touchdowns collectively.
Sept. 1 - vs. Prairie View A&M (Houston)
Sept. 8 - at North Texas
Sept. 15 - vs. Jackson State
Sept. 22 - vs. Alabama A&M
Sept. 29 - vs. Sam Houston State
Oct. 6 - at Alabama State
Oct. 13 - at Southern
Oct. 27 - vs. Grambling State
Nov. 3 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Nov. 10 - at Alcorn State
Nov. 17 - vs. Mississippi Valley State
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