While the FCS landscape continues to shift around the Southwestern Athletic Conference in terms of conference expansion, the SWAC has held true to form for more than 10 years. With the same 10-member conference, split into two 5-team divisions and the winner of each division facing off in the SWAC Championship Game (SCG), the league has stood pat on conference expansion and general ideology but has not earned an at-large bid to the FCS Tournament since 1999, the inaugural year of the SCG.
By Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil, Brandon Bolden and Guest Columnist Kydarian Wilkins
Inside the HBCU Huddle Columnists
College Sporting News
Grambling State, of the Western Division, won the SCG last season and they look to repeat in 2012. While Prairie View A&M, a program that just missed out on SCG appearance after a homecoming lost to Alabama A&M, will push for a return to Birmingham after winning it all in 2009. Alabama A&M will be a leading candidate to return to the big game after losing a heartbreaker, 16-14. But, their in-state rival Alabama State has other plans and Jackson State also looks to crash the party between the two Alabama schools vying for SCG spot.
SWAC PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Grambling State
2. Prairie View A&M
3. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
5. Texas Southern
1. Alabama State
2. Jackson State
3. Alabama A&M
4. Alcorn State
5. Mississippi Valley
SWAC - 2012 ALL-CONFERENCE PRESEASON TEAM
Preseason Offensive Player Of The Year:
Grambling State running back Dawarence Roberts was chosen as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Roberts rushed for 1,102 yards in 2011, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He scored eight touchdowns and averaged 110.2 yards per game last season.
Preseason Defensive Player Of The Year:
Jackson State Defensive Lineman Joesph LeBeau was chosen as the Defensive Player of the year. LeBeau was ranked in the top 10 in the SWAC in tackles last season with 75. He led the conference in tackles for loss and fourth in the FCS with 24.5. He was also 2nd in the FCS in sacks with 16. In addition to his SWAC preseason honors, LeBeau is a Dr. Cavil’s Preseason HBCU Major Division (FCS) All-American, BSN 2012 Preseason 1st Team All-American, CFPA preseason watch list in 2011 and he was also named SWAC Newcomer of the year.
Preseason All-SWAC 1st Team Offense
QB Deaunte Mason, SR, Alabama A&M
RB Kaderious Lacey, SR, Alabama A&M
RB Dawrence Roberts, Grambling State
WR Rico Richardson, SR, Jackson State
WR Spencer Nelson, SR, Prairie View
TE E.J. Drewery, SR, Jackson State
OL Jamal Johnson-Webb, SR, Alabama A&M
OL Terren Jones, SR, Alabama State
OL Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluf
OL Sanford Banks, Grambling State
OL Zion Pyatt, SR, Jackson Stte
Preseason All-SWAC 1st Team Defense
DL Joseph LeBeau, SR, Jackson State
DL Carlton Jones, JR, Alabama State
DL Ryan Love, SR, Prairie View
DL Devon Carter, Grambling State
LB Todd Wilcher, Jackson State
LB Raheem Cardwell, Prairie View
LB Jacarde Carter, Grambling State
DB Kejuan Riley, Alabama State
DB Qua Cox, Jackson State
DB Saeed Lee, Alabama State
DB Vernon Marshall, Alabama A&M
Preseason All-SWAC 1st Team Specialist
PK Chance Wilson, Alabama A&M
P Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State
RET Terrance Lewis, Alcorn State
PREVIEW SNAPSHOT OF EACH SCHOOL
SWAC Eastern Division Preview
Alabama A&M University
School Nickname: Bulldogs
Location: Huntsville, AL
Stadium: Louis Crews Stadium (Capacity-21,000)
Head Coach: Anthony Jones (Career Record: 90-57, Record at school: 72-45, 14th season with the Bulldogs)
Who's Back: A&M is returning 25 seniors, including 20 starters from the 2011 squad. Marshall, defensive linemen Tim Tillman, Phillip Harvey, Preston Nelson and Jawanza Vickers, inside linebackers Denzel Cotton and Montay Rover along with defensive backs Derrick Harris, Joshua Udeh, Chris Ervin and Jamel Morris are expected to be big contributors.
Who's Gone: Free safety Rico Porch, a first-time All-SWAC selection, is also gone after finishing with 48 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups along with cornerback Clarence Morris, who had two interceptions and six pass breakups.
Historical Fact: Listed among the Top 50 in Black Enterprise/Day Star’s first rating.
Last Year: Bulldogs finished the season 8-4 last years after losing a heartbreaker to Grambling in the SWAC Championship game 16-15 after leading 15-0 at halftime.
This Year: The Bulldogs are projected to finish the season 3rd on the West Division.
Alabama State University
School Nickname: Hornets
Location: Montgomery, AL
Stadium: Hornet Stadium (Capacity-26,500)
Head Coach: Reggie Barlow (Career Record: 27-29, 6th year with the Hornets)
Who's Back: A total of seven Hornets earned All-SWAC honors: WR Nick Andrews, FS Kejuan Riley, T Terren Jones were all first-team all-conference selections, while DB Saeed Lee, P Bobby Wenzig, DT Kynjee Cotton and LB Demarques Taylor earned second-team honors.
Historical Fact: Alabama State University is a direct descendent of Lincoln Normal School, thus making it one of the oldest institutions of higher education founded for black Americans.
Last Year: The Hornets capped off their 2nd consecutive winning season with an 8-3 record.
This Year: The Hornets are predicted to Win the Eastern Division this year and make it to the SWAC Championship.
Jackson State University
School Nickname: Tigers
Location: Jackson, MS
Stadium: Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium (Capacity-60,492)
Head Coach: Rick Comegy (Career Record: 140-75, School Record: 32-24)
Who's Back: Preseason Defensive Player Of The Year, Preseason All-American, and Preseason 1st Team All-SWAC DL Joseph LeBeau, 1st Team All-SWAC WR Rick Richardson, TE E.J. Drewery, OL Zion Pyatt, LB Todd Wilcher, DB Qua Cox, 2nd Team All-SWAC OL Stephen Caple, DL Johnathan Billups, B. J. Lee.
Who's Gone: QB Casey Therriault
Historical Fact: Did you know the school is No. 1 in federally funded research among HBCUs (68 million)?
Last Year: 2011 Record 9-2 (7-2)
This Year: The Tigers are projected to finish 2nd in the Eastern Division.
Alcorn State University
School Nickname: Braves
Location: Normal, MS
Stadium: Jack Spinks Stadium (Capacity-22,500)
Head Coach: Jay Hopson (1st Year)
Who's Back: 1st Team All-SWAC RET Terrance Lewis, 2nd Team All-SWAC RB Arnold Walker, DB Casey Freeman
Who's Gone: OL Issac Williams, Avis Shelton, and Keyun Swinney.
Historical Fact: Founded in 1871, Alcorn was the nation's first state-supported institution for the higher education of African Americans.
Last Year: The Braves had their worse year in school's history after finishing 2-8, as a result head coach Melvin Spears was fired.
This Year: The Braves are projected to finish 4th in the Eastern Division after a new coaching staff have been put in place.
Mississippi Valley State
School Nickname: Delta Devils
Location: Itta Bena, MS
Stadium: Rice-Totten Field (Capacity-10,000)
Head Coach: Karl A. Morgan
Who's Back: 2nd Team All-SWAC RB Trey Bateaste, DL Leployer Franklin, PK Carlos Sanchez
Who's Gone: RB Chris Watkins, Linebacker Rory Malone, WR Paul Cox
Historical Fact: Did you know Mississippi Valley State has a 66 percent female enrollment?
Last Year: The Delta Devils were a disappointing 1-10(1-8) in the SWAC
This Year: The Delta Devils are predicted to finish last on the Eastern Division after a bad season last year.
SWAC Western Division Preview
Grambling State University
School Nickname: Tigers
Location: Grambling, LA
Stadium: Eddie Robison Stadium (Capacity-19,600)
Head Coach: Doug Williams, Career Record (55-26) SWAC Record (31-10)
Who's Back: Preseason Offensive Player Of The Year and 1st Team All-SWAC RB Dawrence Roberts, OL Sanford Banks, DL Devon Carter, LB*Jacarde Carter,*2nd Team All-SWAC OL Clint Marsh, DB Naquan Smith, P Fabian Carter
Who's Gone: Mario Louis (1,129 18 TDs) LB Cliff Exama (who led the conference with 136 Tackles)
Historical: Grambling State University opened on November 1, 1901 as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School. It was founded by the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association, organized in 1896 by a group of African-American farmers who wanted to organize and operate a school for African Americans in their region of the state
Last Year: The Tigers finished the season 8-4, 6-3 in SWAC play to win the West Division and defeated Alabama A&M for the SWAC Championship 16-15 to become SWAC Champions.
This Year: The Tigers are ranked 1st on the Western Division side and are also predicted to repeat as SWAC Champions.
Prairie View A&M University
School Nickname: Panthers
Location: Prairie View, TX
Stadium: Edward L. Blackshear Field (6,000)
Head Coach: Heishma Northern, Career Record (43-30)
Who’s Back: 1st Team All-SWAC WR Spencer Nelson, DL Ryan Love, LB Raheem Cardwell. 2nd Team All-SWAC DL Jarvis Wilson.
Who’s Gone: DB Moses Ellis, DL Adrian Hamilton
Historical: Did you know that PVAMU is the second oldest public higher education institution in Texas?
Last Year: The Panthers finished 5-6 overall and 5-4 in conference.
This Year: The Panthers are projected to finish 2nd in the Western Division behind Grambling.
Conference Game of the Week: Cotton Bowl Classic, Dallas, TX Prairie View A&M vs. Grambling State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff University
School Nickname: The Golden Lions
Location: Pine Bluff, AR
Stadium: Golden Lion Stadium (Capacity-16,000)
Head Coach: Monte Coleman
Who’s Back: 1st Team ALL-SWAC OL Terron Armstead & 2nd Team ALL-SWAC LB Jer-ryan Harris & also 2011 Freshman Of The Year QB Benjamin Anderson.
Who’s Gone: DB James Harrel, LB Bill Ross
Historical: Did you know according to the school that aquaculture is a $167 million industry in Arkansas alone and approximately $1.2 billion in the Mississippi Delta region?
Last Year: The Golden Lions finished 6-5 overall and (5-4 SWAC)
This Year: The Golden Lions are projected to finish 3rd in the Western Division in the 2012 season.
School Nickname: Jaguars
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Stadium: A.W. Muford Stadium (Capacity-29,000)
Head Coach: Stump Mitchell (Overall Record: 6-16)
Who’s Back: 2nd Team ALL-SWAC TE Mike Berry & 2nd Team ALL-SWAC Defense DB Virgil Williams
Who’s Gone: LB Jamie Payton, WR LaQuinton Evans
Historical: Did you know the first season of the reality show College Hill on BET premiered in 2004 with the Southern University campus as its locate?
Last Year: The Jaguars finished 4-7 overall (4-5 SWAC)
This Year: The Jaguars are projected to finish 4th in the Western Division.
Conference Game of the Week: The Bayou Classic- Grambling vs. Southern University
Texas Southern University
School Nickname: Tigers
Location: Houston, TX
Stadium: BBVA Compass Stadium (Capacity-22,039)
Head Coach: Darrell Asberry First year head coach (Overall Record: 40-25)
Who’s Back: QB Riko Smalls, QB Dantavious Parker, CB Tray Walker, FS Jerome Thomas LB Adrian Bennett
Who’s Gone: RB Marcus Wright, RB Martin Gilbert, WR Joe Anderson, DT Jonathan Hollands, TE Kirk Fitzhugh
Historical: Texas Southern University (TSU) was formally established in 1947 with a mission to establish a credible college for African American students.
Last Year: The Tigers finished 4-7 overall (2-7 SWAC)
This Year: The Tigers are projected to finish last in the Western Division in the upcoming 2012 season.
Conference Game of the Week: Labor Day Classic Texas Southern vs. Prairie View A&M September 1, 2012 Reliant Stadium.
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"INSIDE THE HBCU HUDDLE" is here for its second annual release featuring four "HBCU Games of the Week" analysis with columnist Brandon Bolden and executive editor Dr. J. Kenyatta Cavil.
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