Delta State Football enters 2014 at number 25 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 7-3 (4-2) Gulf South Conference
Heading into their week five matchup against West Alabama, the Delta Statesmen were 3-1 with the lone loss to Texas A&M-Commerce. Junior quarterback Travis Champion was 119 for 157 (75.8%) throwing the ball so far, for 1,378 yards, 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions – each of these statistics were best in the Gulf South and his 75.8% completion percentage was the highest in D2 by a country mile. Then came week five. Champion didn’t show up for the Statesmen against West Alabama, and finished the 48-14 whupping 33/55 for 226 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. That performance just wouldn’t cut it in the GSC. Enter, redshirt freshman Tyler Sullivan.
Against Tarleton State the next week, Sullivan made first start since high school and he made it count. After they fell behind by ten in the second quarter, the Statesmen climbed back and traded the lead with the Texans for most of the second half. TSU kicked a field goal to go up one point with 1:10 left in the game and gave Sullivan the ball – a mistake, but one they didn’t know they were making, this being his first start after all. They drove down the field, 40 yards, in 55 seconds to put Vince Sciorrotta in range to hit the game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Statesmen went into their final game 7-2 with a chance to win the GSC with a win over West Georgia. They lost 38-20 and ended a very exciting and promising season 7-3, third place in the GSC.
-Andre Lucious OL – Starter
-Dominique Hersey OL – Starter
-Richard Freelon RB – 84 carries, 333 yards, 3 TDs, 12 catches, 59 yards
-Adrian Dinkins DL – 33 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FF
-Trenton Warren DB – 45 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 FRs, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick
What to Watch For
Gulf South Offensive Freshman of the Year – Tyler Sullivan played in seven games (started five) at quarterback for Delta State football as a redshirt freshman last season. He completed 131 of 201 passes (65.7%) for 1,764 yards, 15 TDs, only 4 INTs, and added another 146 yards and 4 TDs on the ground in 44 attempts. His highlights included the comeback-win over Tarleton State (in which he passed for 422 yards and 4 TDs), and the win over Valdosta State where he set the Delta State single-game record for total offense with 583 yards, 4 TDs through the air, and another 2 on the ground. The Statesmen lost only two starters from the offense, both on the line, so he’ll have his full compliment of skill position players around him in 2014. Expect big things.
The youth movement is alive and well at Delta State. GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year Tyler Sullivan is, of course, a huge part of that, but he’s definitely not DSU’s only talented underclassman. Eleven Statesmen were named either first or second team All-GSC performers last season, and nine of them will be back in 2014. Five of them won’t even be seniors in 2014! Linebacker Rory Island will however, and he’ll try to match the impressive feat of now-graduated Valdosta State linebacker Chris Pope and earn his third selection to the All-GSC first team this season. We’re predicting upward mobility for Delta State this year. This is a young team on the rise with tons of talent and a bad taste in its collective mouth – not a team to bet against. Fans should expect to see Delta State win the GSC and advance past at least the first round of playoffs. Beyond that every team is excellent so there are too many factors to make an educated assessment, but the point is – get excited Statesmen fans.