|Winston-Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson (photo from fullscalesports.com)|
The Winston-Salem State Rams return star quarterback Rudy Johnson and leading rusher Maurice Lewis and look strong as the preseason No. 1 team in the ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT Division II Top Ten Poll.
The Rams made a deep run in the NCAA Division II playoffs after going undefeated in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and finishing 10-2. Winston-Salem State led the CIAA in total offense and defense.
But head coach Connell Maynor has left WSSU for Hampton. He has been replaced by defensive coordinator Kienus Boulware. Also leading receiver Chase Powell went to Hampton with Maynor.
But with Johnson, who led the CIAA in passing yardage and touchdowns, and Lewis, who has more than 2,000 yards rushing in his WSSU career, the Rams are poised for a title run.
"We don't know what we have, but we have something on paper," Boulware said. "But we are like everybody else in that it's all on paper. You don't really know until we start practicing who is out there."
In the preseason poll, the Rams are followed by the team they would have played in the CIAA championship game had it not been canceled because of a fight, Virginia State; 2013 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champ Albany State; Tuskegee and Fayetteville State.
|Tennessee State's Anthony Bass gets one of his ten sacks in 2013.|
Four Tiger defenders from the nation's 6th best defense in 2013 have been named to the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason All-Conference team, including the conference's preseason Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Anthony Bass. Bass had 34 tackles, ten sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a safety and a blocked kick in being named the 2013 OVC Defensive Player of the Year. He is joined by linebacker Nick Thrasher (110 tackles in 2013), defensive backs Daniel Fitzpatrick (the FCS National Defensive Back of the Year with 75 tackles and a nation-leading eight interceptions) and De'Ante Saunders (39 tackles, four interceptions). They Germain (1,200 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in seven games) a nice cushion.
"We do feel like at Tennessee State University, you do have to be great on defense," Reed told SportsNetwork.com. "It also means if you're great on defense, you're pretty much a physical team, offensively and defensively. So we want to have that attitude when we go into a game that we're going to out-physical our opponents. And I think it starts with defense."
The Tigers are followed closely by Bethune Cookman, a squad that lost their entire linebacking core and thee of four members of the secondary. But they return three All-MEAC defenders LeBrandon Richardson, Tavarus Dantzler and Marquis Drayton from the nation's second-ranked defense in 2013.
The team with the nation's top defense is picked to finish third in the FCS poll, South Carolina State. They are followed by Alabama State and North Carolina A&T.
Here are the entire ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS and Division II polls.
1) Tennessee State
2) Bethune Cookman
3) South Carolina State
4) Alabama State
5) North Carolina A&T
7) Alcorn State
8) Prairie View A&M
10) Jackson State
1) Winston-Salem State
2) Virginia State
3) Albany State
5) Fayetteville State
8) Fort Valley State
9) Elizabeth City State