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2011 Season Preview: Alabama A&M




Aug. 3, 2011

Courtesy Alabama A&M Sports Information Office -

Offense was the question the Alabama A&M football team couldn't answer last season. The Bulldogs finished ninth in scoring offense, sixth in total offense, third in rushing offense, ninth in passing offense, ninth in passing efficiency, fourth in red zone offense, second in third-down conversions and second in time of possession. On the other hand the long time defensive coordinator, Brawnksi Towns, led a defensive unit that ended 2010 6th in scoring defense, 2nd in total defense, 3rd in rushing, 8th in interceptions, 7th in sacks, third in opponents third down conversions and 10th in red zone defense. All categories are based in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

To answer those questions 10th year head coach Anthony Jones will look to:

Quarterbacks

Starting quarterback Deaunte Mason who threw for 911 yards and eight touchdowns. The one time MVP rushed for 212 yards and two TD's in seven games of action. Mason went out with a groin injury during the 69th annual Magic City Classic. Sophomore Justin Jones came in and finished his true freshman season with 801 yards and four TD's off of 59-116 passing. The Decatur, Alabama native rushed for 76 yards and a TD in nine competitive events. The University of Alabama-Birmingham transfer David Isabelle brings in experience as the former starting QB for the Blazers in 2010. Isabelle played in seven games totaling 334 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and 23 of 50 pass attempts with 564 yards and three touchdowns in the air. Jones and his staff signed QB Brandon Wells of Calera high school in the off-season. Wells totaled more than 7,300 yards in total offense and 90 touchdowns throughout his high school career. A&M finished 9th in passing offense in 2010.

Running backs

Kaderius Lacey carried the running game for the Bulldogs leading the team on the ground with 710 yards on 142 carries and five touchdowns. Lacey finished fifth in the conference in rushing. Freshman Brendon Johnson learned on the fly as he was promoted to second string after Lacey was promoted to starter when Tony Green went down with a concussion in the John Merritt Classic. Johnson saw six games in the Maroon & White and earned 56 yards on 15 carries. He also earned 127 yards on 10 kick returns. During the spring of 2011, Johnson was able to heal nagging injuries from the Fall and explode in the Maroon & White Spring game gaining 72 yards on 16 attempts. Stephan Andrews saw action in two games in 2010 totaling 22 yards on six carries. Newcomers Trey Oliver, Chris Terry, Brandon Eldemire, Kendarius Fritts and Talmadge McCloud will look to earn some time in the Bulldogs back field. Holding down the full back position will be a combination of Joseph Porter and Christopher Hall. The Bulldogs completed the season third in rushing offense.

Wide Receivers

Montarius Smith came alive on the field during the Spring game leading all receivers with seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Smith sat out the 2010 season and will be depended on to assist leading receiver G'Alonzo Smith who ended the year with 30 catches for 517 yards and four TD's. Torey Smith caught seven receptions for 116 yards in eight games last season and will look for more time in the slot position. Ball State transfer Jeremy Hill will add speed and size to the corps after a 2009 season that saw him in five games where he caught 11 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Hill was red-shirted in 2010.

Tight End

Even though Kenneth Harris did not start in one game last year, he led all tight ends with seven receptions for 92 yards and a TD. The starter Bobby Goldsby ended the year with 66 yards on five catches. Jared Bing saw action in eight contests and accounted for four receptions for 28 yards. 6'3, 266 pound incoming freshman Alex Coleman will battle for the tight end spot in the 2011 preseason.

Offensive Line

All great coaches know if you don't win the battles you will not win the war. That war in college football starts in the trenches with the offensive line. A&M replaces two starters on a line that gave up 30 sacks for 199 yards. Returning rotating starters include Joaquenssi Eugene, Carlos Tolbert, Alan Cruz, Justin Goodrich and Jamal Johnson-Webb. Giba Goba and Ramond Sewell will look for action in their second season on "The Hill". Transfer Bryant Ross will look for time on the line as he transfers in from West Hills Community College. Ross was named the Most Improved Offensive Player at West Hills (Cal.) College last season. Newcomers Myle Agnew, Austin Boyle, Ledarius Chapman, Mathew Miller, Rodney Morgan, Cody Shaw and Ramon Wilson will look to battle for action in 2011.

Defensive Line

A&M's 2010 defense produced the only SWAC player to be drafted in the 2011 NFL draft. The line also accounted for 155 of the 651 team tackles from last season. Returning starters include Anthony Jackson, Preston Nelson, Tim Tillman, Clarence Lovell and Phillip Harvey. Jamal Cooper, Marques Smith, Dominique Wright and Brandon Savage will battle to see the field in the upcoming year. First time players Kendrick Wilson, Cedric Williams, Marshall University transfer Corey Hart and 6'5, 230 pound defensive end Reginald Bailey who comes in from Pearl River Community College out of Mississippi, will battle for time on the line. Other first time athletes include Cordero Dade, David Dagrin, Areka Jackson, and Corey Johnson. Walk-on Quintin Robinson's work in the Spring scrimmage's pushed him ahead of Tony Jackson at the No. 1 left defensive tackle spot.

Linebackers

Preseason All-SWA candidate Willie Fuller leads all returning linebackers in tackles from 2010 with 54. Fuller will be joined by Markeith Cliatt, Denzel Cotton, Cuevas Dargan, Ryan Jackson and Bryan Nelson. During the spring, Scottsdale College transfer Montay Rover moved ahead of Dargan as the second team Mike linebacker. Newcomers Jimelle James and Shaquille Sheperd will look to prove themselves in the preseason.

Defensive Backs

The Bulldogs leading tackler Vernon Marshall heads up a defensive unit that totaled eight interceptions for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. In Marshall's first full year at starting strong safety he totaled 77 tackles 20 more than the next A&M athlete. Starting free safety Rico Porch returns after posting 38 tackles, five for a loss of 12 yards, four breakups and a fumble recovery. Marshall's brother Vandrick Jackson posted 21 tackles. Derrick Harris saw action in nine events and ended the year with 10 stops. Other returners for A&M in the secondary include, Jeremy Isabelle, Nicholas Shoaf, Douglas Anderson, Cedric Clayborn, Clarence Morris and Theron Rice. They will be joined by A.J. Clark who moves to the other side of the ball from the QB position to increase the secondary speed. Marcus Dozier and Joshua Udeh who is battling Isabelle for a starting position, Dennis Price, junior college transfer Julius Williams a 6'2, 196 pound New Yorker from Hudson Valley JC, will provide a great battle for starting positions in the 2011 preseason. Williams, 6-2, 196 pounds, had 28 tackles, including 22 solos and three interceptions, last season at Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Junior College, while Udeh is a 6-2, 215-pounder out of Grossmont (Cal.) College will join him in battling for a starting position. Other newcomers are Tre Cosby, Darrian Graham, Jamel Morris, Jermaine Smith, Luther Snipe, and Jaylen Washington.

Special Teams

College Football Performance Awards watch list selection Chance Wilson led all players in scoring during 2010 with 51 points coming from 8 of 11 in field goals and 27 for 27 in points after touchdowns. Jordan Roman returns to handle the long snapping duties. Wilson ended his sophomore season sixth in scoring, third in punting, fifth in field goals and first in point after touchdown percentage.

Coach Jones and the Bulldog staff will have to turnaround only their second losing season during the last decade. In 2008 the Jones led squad posted a 5-7 record. The next year Alabama A&M went 7-5 and lost to Prairie View A&M in the 2009 conference championship.

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