|Southern wide receiver Willie Quinn (photo from Southern athletic department web site)|
SWAC head coaches, sports information directors and selected national media members chose Southern in the West Division and Alabama State in the East as its preseason favorites for 2014.
The Jaguars do return breakout running back Lenard Tillery, who had nearly 800 yards rushing and nine touchdowns during his freshman season last year. Fellow sophomore Willie Quinn also had a big freshman season where he was one of the SWAC top receivers as he averaged 13 catches a game, with nearly 800 yards receiving and seven touchdowns all season. Tillery is a second team All-SWAC preseason pick while Quinn made the first team.
Offensive lineman Anthony Mosley made the first team while his colleague Zach Brown was a second team pick. Defensive lineman Arthur Miley and Daniel Brown are first team choices.
The Jaguars have all that going for them, but head coach Dawson Odums still hasn't come up with a final choice as to who will be the quarterback replacing graduated star Dray Joseph.
Doesn't matter, he says.
"It takes a collective effort from everyone around to make that guy stand out," he said at the SWAC media day, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He just needs to do his part and everyone else do their part. I don't think you have to be great. You can become great because of the people around you. You make good decisions. Whoever is going to lead the Southern Jaguars in 2014 at that position will do it because they make good decisions."
Alabama State were the experts' pick in the west. The Hornets were one of the conference's stingiest defenses against the run last year as first team pre-season All-SWAC picks LB Kourtney Berry and DL Derrick Billups led the Hornets. Berry came from out of nowhere as a freshman to be the SWAC's third-leading tackler with 105 stops and seven sacks. Billups had 80 tackles and was in the SWAC's top ten in tackles for loss. Edward Mosely and Justin Mitchell, second team preseason All-Conference picks, round out the SWAC's top defensive line.
Here is the SWAC Preseason predicted order of finish and their votes:
1) Southern (95)
2) Prairie View (88)
3) Arkansas-Pine Bluff (66)
4) Texas Southern (50)
5) Grambling State (31)
1) Alabama State (93)
2) Alcorn State (91)
3) Jackson State (72)
4) Mississippi Valley State (40)
5) Alabama A&M (34)