HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Prairie View A&M.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M (6-5)
The SWAC (3rd in SWAC West)
COACH: Eric Dooley – 1st year (0-0)
2017 OFFENSE: 30.0 ppg (31st in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 25.0 ppg (52nd in FCS)
SUM IT UP: You can't write a preview about the Panthers without bringing up the sudden departure of QB Neiko Hollins (1,800 yards passing, 21 TDs), who made a decision in July to go the junior college route. His announcement was so abrupt that even the PVA&M media preview mentions Hollins. The good news for the Panthers is that the cupboard is not bare as senior Lavell McCullers and Jalen Morton have been proven assets under center before. In all, the offense returns 6 or 7 starters, depending on how you read it — and it was one of the better offenses, statistically, in the FCS. The defense only returns 4 starters, so that will be something to watch. New coach Eric Dooley is a proven name in the FCS, having come from — and having helped build — a winning culture at Grambling, where he once played under legendary coach Eddie Robinson. He will keep this program humming.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Last year, the Panthers won the games they should have, and lost the games where they were considered the underdog coming in. No big shocks there. The good news is the senior class here has won 21 ballgames from 2015-17. Former coach Willie Simmons (now close to his childhood home at Florida A&M) set a winning tone here, and undoubtedly Dooley will continue that. The first four games on this year's schedule aren't patsies. Two are against FBS teams, albeit weaker ones (1-11 Rice and UNLV — who fellow HBCU program Howard beat last year), and then two winning FCS programs from a year ago — Sam Houston State and North Carolina Central in a neutral site game. None of those will be easy, but I think Prairie View will come away with at least one win there. Then there's the SWAC guantlet of Grambling, Southern and Alcorn. I think the high-low water mark is pretty narrow for this somewhat rebuilding program — best-case scenario is 6 wins, worst case is 5. We'll go with that for the Panthers.
TOP RETURNEE: DB Ju'Anthony Parker (1st Team All SWAC – 4 INTs);
THE NEXT BEST: RB Dawonya Tucker (531 yards rushing, 5 TDs); LB Anthony Stubbs (69 tackles, 5.5 TFLs); PK Zach Elder (10 FGs); OL Corbin Finlayson (2nd Team All SWAC); OL Shawn Pierce (2nd Team All SWAC); DB Reggie Stubblefield (51 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 INTs)
TOP NEWCOMER: DL Joshua Smith (3-star H.S. prospect was a Kansas decommitment).
DID YOU KNOW?: Prairie View A&M has captured 5 HBCU national championships in its school history — 1953, 1954, 1958, 1963 and 1964.
THE QUOTE: "It's going to always be tough out here because of the expectations. We have high expectations, and that's the way it should be. I'm pretty sure some guys did some great things and we'll get a chance to take a look at it once we watch the video … I thought the intensity was turned up a lot. I thought the guys tried to fly around but we kind of surprised them with some things we did at the beginning of practice. A lot of the veteran guys took it and challenged themselves. I know what I'm expecting will always be tough, but just looking at the overall picture, there are some pleasing sights and some positions we have to work on ." — coach Eric Dooley said about the spring
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #DooleyEra
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @PVAMUFootball
You heard the man!!! #PurpleHaze RT @receivers17: “Kids open your eyes, open your hearts and open your ears. They got it going on @PVAMUFootball baby!”
–@DeionSanders @TCCHFootball @EricDooley80
— Prairie View A&M FB (@PVAMUFootball) June 25, 2018