HERO Sports wraps up the previews with “Two-A-Days” for each FCS conference through Friday, Aug. 24 (see full schedule below). Today, we feature the MEAC.
SUM IT UP
(NOTE: Team by team previews in this conference are below)
North Carolina A&T went 12-0 last year and returns a ton of the same firepower that won it the HBCU National Title last year. The Aggies are the heavy favorite to do that again, but what about the rest of the conference? In general, there are a lot of starters returning in this league, especially with the programs that finished in the bottom half last year. That may create more landmines than usual in the MEAC. There are some hungry teams that finished with losing records last fall — and that may be the storyline when one of the MEAC uppercrust gets upset.
[credit]North Carolina A&T receiver Elijah Bell could lead the MEAC in receiving once again. (NC A&T Athletics)[/credit]
NAMES TO KNOW
THE VETERAN COACH: Buddy Pough, S.C. State
Pough may have suffered through a tough season last year, but in his tenure since 2002, the Bulldogs have been one of the most consistent winners. He has 120 career wins at the school, with 6 MEAC titles.
TOP PASSER: Lamar Raynard, N.C. A&T
Led the MEAC in passing last year with 2,932 yards and 27 TDs, with only 7 INTs.
TOP RUSHER: Marquell Cartwright, N.C. A&T
Led the MEAC in rushing last year with 1,190 yards and 14 touchdowns.
TOP RECEIVER: Elijah Bell, N.C. A&T
Caught 64 passes for 953 yards and 11 TDs.
TOP TACKLER: Nigel Chavis, Norfolk State
Racked up 82 tackles to be the leading MEAC returner, with 8.5 TFLs.
TOP SACK MAN: Stefen Banks, Savannah State
The MEAC’s top sack man is back again. Had 10 sacks last year and 18 TFLs.
TOP INT ARTIST: Davanta Reynolds, North Carolina Central & Mac McCain, North Carolina A&T
The MEAC’s co-leaders with 6 INTs apiece will be back in the fray once again.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Caylin Newton, QB, Howard
I doubt this pick will be a shock to anybody. Cam’s little brother was good for 2,432 yards passing and 753 yards rushing and a total of 25 TDs last year.
TOP FANBASE (*)
Florida A&M is in the Top 5 of fan engagement with our previews this summer, and not surprisingly it was No. 3 in attendance last year with 19,000+ per game. Coming in right behind the Rattlers is North Carolina A&T at No. 6, and it is also second in fan attendance (2017 numbers).
(*) – Based on fan engagement with our previews this summer.
RANKING THE MEAC
|RK||HERO SPORTS (Brian)||COACHES POLL|
|1||North Carolina A&T||North Carolina A&T|
|3||FAMU (up)||N.C. Central|
|6||Norfolk State||Norfolk State|
|7||S.C. State||S.C. State|
|8||Savannah State||Savannah State|
|9||Morgan State||Morgan State|
|10||Delaware State||Delaware State|
Really, there isn’t a whole lot of disagreement here. North Carolina A&T and Howard are clearly the No. 1 and No. 2 in this league, at least on paper in the preseason. My main “strong feeling” is with FAMU. The Rattlers are on the verge of something big — and even though they were 3-8 last year, they were only blown away in one game, Arkansas. They have a coach (Willie Simmons) who worked wonders at Prairie View A&M, they have one of the FCS’ top fan bases, and are ripe for success. I think it starts this fall, and attendance creeps up into the mid 20K range per game, pushing Montana and James Madison for attendance honors. Keep an eye on Norfolk State and Savannah State, who return a ton of talent — and do we really think S.C. State will be down for long? Doubtful.
PREVIEWING THE REST OF THE MEAC