OFFENSE BY POSITION
RETURNEES: Dray Joseph, Jeremiah McGinty, Hasoni Alfred, Reid Sanders.
KEY LOSS: None.
TOP NEWCOMERS: J.P. Douglas.
PROJECTED STARTER: Joseph.
OUTLOOK: McGinty was the starter for much of last season, but Joseph came off the bench to lead Southern in both of its wins, and he also started three of the last four games. Joseph began training camp as the de facto No. 1, and while SU coach Stump Mitchell is high on Douglas, a true freshman, it appears that Joseph still has the edge. “Right now, I think he really has a pretty good grasp of the offense,” Mitchell said.
RETURNEES: RB Brandon Rice,RB Dallas Fort, RB Sylvester Nzekwe, RB Kaelen Mayfield,FB Brian McCain, FB Lee Mitchell.
KEY LOSSES: RB Gary Hollimon, FB Carlton Byrum.
TOP NEWCOMERS: RB Byron Williams,RB Terrell Alex.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Rice (RB), McCain (FB).
OUTLOOK: Almost from the moment he arrived at Southern in 2009, Rice earned the respect of coaches and teammates with his instincts and hard-running style - but he never had the chance to start or play much. Until now. He and the small-but-versatile Fort figure to lead the rushing attack, which has to be more productive this season. Williams, now a junior, was academically ineligible last season. Nzekwe was the team’s second-leading rusher. McCain is a punishing lead blocker, while Lee Mitchell is more versatile.
RETURNEES: Javon Jordan, Rashaun Allen, Kesean Peterson.
KEY LOSS: None.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Eric Janeau.
PROJECTED STARTER: Jordan.
OUTLOOK: In truth, it probably doesn’t matter who starts. Jordan, Allen and Peterson - all sophomores - had significant roles last season, and though Allen and Peterson missed spring practice, all three tight ends have practiced extensively. Together, they had 335 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2010.
RETURNEES: T Chris Browne, G/T Dwayne Houston, G Taylon Jones, C Lee Almanza, G Aaron Hall, G Johnathan Preston, G Julius Magee.
KEY LOSSES: C Ramon Chinyoung, G Roddrell Stewart.
TOP NEWCOMERS: T Clinton Boyd, G/T Zach Brown, G Donald Glover, C Allan Spry, G/T Brandon Thibodeaux, G Isaiah Webster.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Browne (LT), Jones (LG), Almanza (C), Houston (RG), Boyd (RT).
OUTLOOK: Simply put, Southern cannot perform better unless its offensive line performs better than last season, when the Jaguars finished ninth in the SWAC in total offense. Browne is among the best in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Almanza, rock-solid for the past two years, moves from right tackle to center. Position coach Paul Lounsberry said he’s comfortable with Jones, who started last season as a true freshman. The right side of the line will likely be manned by Houston, a redshirt freshman, and Boyd, who was ineligible last year. The line has six true freshmen in camp.
RETURNEES: LaQuinton Evans, Charles Hawkins, Justin Williams, Jordan Bilbo, William Waddel, Omari Robinson, Burnett King.
KEY LOSSES: Curry Allen, Corey Cushingberry, Isaiah Nelson, Richard Wilson, Jeremy Paul.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Jared Green, Michael Berry, Lee Doss, Bradley Coleman, Desmond Vallean.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Evans, Hawkins, Green, Berry.
OUTLOOK: Evans led the team with five touchdowns last season, including four of 30 or more yards. He figures to take over as the No. 1 receiver. Green, a senior transfer from Virginia, comes to Southern with hopes of making a big splash and reaching the NFL. Hawkins has earned mounds of praise from coaches for his knowledge of the playbook and a strong start to camp. Berry is a 6-foot-3 junior-college transfer. Doss, who’s 6-2, joined the team in spring practice; he and Hawkins played together in high school.
DEFENSE BY POSITION
RETURNEES: DE Delwin Williams, DE Dion Palmer, DE Kadeem Lewis, DE Kedy Enabulele, DT Brandon Turner, DT Casey Narcisse, DT Jonathan English, DT Traé Tiller.
KEY LOSSES: DT Jordan Miller, DT Jeremiah Booth, DT Derrion Robinson, DE Steven Williams.
TOP NEWCOMERS: DT Dexter James, DT Kenneth Hill, DE Christian Allen, DE Jamal Massey, Kamé? Asonye, DE Arthur Miley, DE Jeffrey Watkins, DE Jaylen Jordan, DE Keathon Ransom.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Lewis (RE), James (DT), Narcisse (DT), Enabulele (LE).
OUTLOOK: Southern is very thin at defensive tackle and has spent most of its practice time in the 3-4. English is finishing summer school, and even if he returns, Mitchell said, it will take him awhile to get re-acclimated. That leaves James, Narcisse and Turner as the only tackles with college experience. James was ineligible last season, and Narcisee and Turner are coming off of ACL injuries. Whereas the team lacks defensive tackles, it has an abundance of ends, including Enabulele and Lewis, who got more playing time toward the end of last season.
RETURNEES: Demetrius Bentley, Corey Ray, Javandon Vallare, Franchot West.
KEY LOSSES: Gary Chatman, André Coleman, Marcus Clark, Detrane Lindsey, John White.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Jamie Payton, Jared Detrick, Corry Roy, Robert Sanchez.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Roy, Payton, Ray, Bentley.
OUTLOOK: Defensive coordinator O’Neill Gilbert said he believes the linebackers will be the strength of this year’s defense. The group is a little deeper than before, and it might include three (or four) new starters. Payton, a senior transfer, and Roy, a junior transfer, have practiced with the first team. Detrick and Ray, a fifth-year senior, are in the mix at middle linebacker. Bentley, a fifth-year senior, has bounced between end and linebacker for most of his career.
RETURNEES: CB Virgil Williams, CB D’Mekus Cook, CB Rashaad Hoyle, CB Cameron Booker, FS Marlon Smith, FS Levi Jackson, SS Anthony Balancier, SS Mychal Bell, SS Demetric Rogers.
KEY LOSSES: FS Jason House, FS Anthony Wells, CB Pierre Warford, CB Marcus Doss.
TOP NEWCOMERS: CB Kevin King, CB LaMarkius Pettaway, CB John Mack, CB Jamal Jenkins, FS Wynton Perro, SS Jeremy Coleman, SS Edmond Johnson.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Jackson (FS), Rogers (SS), Williams (CB), Cook (CB), Mack (NB).
OUTLOOK: The coaching staff has all but guaranteed that Williams will be one of the two starting corners (as a true freshman last season, he played out of position at free safety). Jackson, who’s small but strong, has the best shot at free safety. After that, it’s up in the air. Balancier played strong safety in high school but started at weakside linebacker last season; he’s been hit and miss as a strong safety during camp. The other starting corner position is undecided, between D’Mekus Cook, Kevin King, John Mack and others.
RETURNEES: P Manuel Cantu, LS Justin Williams, PR/KR Virgil Williams, PR/KR Charles Hawkins.
KEY LOSSES: P Josh Duran, K William Griswold, PR/KR Richard Wilson.
TOP NEWCOMERS: P/K Matthew Hill, P/K Jamie Galvin, PR/KR Byron Williams, P Demetric Rogers.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Hill (K), Cantu (P), Justin Williams (LS), Hawkins (PR/KR), Virgil Williams (KR).
OUTLOOK: Griswold made 15 of 20 field goals as a freshman last season; he was on pace to be an all-time great at Southern. But he withdrew from school and returned home to Tampa, Fla., during the summer, forcing the coaches to improvise. They brought in Hill and Galvin, and so far, Hill looks like the first in line at place-kicker. Cantu was part of the team last season but didn’t play at all; he figures to take over at punter. Rogers has practiced as a rugby-style punter who could be used in certain situations. Virgil Williams and Hawkins are first in line as kick returners, though Byron Williams has been explosive in the past.