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 … Alabama State.
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
FCS TEAM BY TEAM PREVIEW: The countdown
FCS PRESEASON TOP 25: The poll
FCS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA: The teams
ALABAMA STATE (5-6 IN 2017)
The SWAC (ASU was 2nd in the East Div. in 2017)
COACH: Donald Hill-Eley – 2nd year (5-1 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 14.0 ppg. (116th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 18.0 ppg. (18th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The Hornets didn't have a problem with defense last year, pinning opponents back – especially from midseason on when Hill-Eley took over as head coach and finished the year 5-1. There is a ton of momentum coming off the last six games, where Alabama State's only loss was to SWAC champion Grambling. With 9 of its top 14 tacklers returning, the defense looks formidable again — but the question is, can the offense get revved up to match the D? The running game was a focus point down the stretch last year and QB Darryl Pearson — a former Arkansas State QB signee — showed promise during that same span.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The first half of Alabama State's schedule is rather brutal (Auburn, FBS South Alabama, FCS power Kennesaw State, both SWAC Title Game teams from 2017 – Alcorn and Grambling), while the second half is quite winnable. Six wins is a near lock, which would give the Hornets their first winning season since going 6-5 in 2015. The question is those two early SWAC games, Alcorn and Grambling. That's the difference between this being a nice improvement and being a potential championship season for the Hornets.
[divider]HERO SPORTS FCS PODCAST: Subscribe here
BEST FCS PLAYER BY NUMBER: We count down, No. 99 through No. 1[divider]
TOP RETURNEE: DE Ricky Haley (7 TFL, 5.5 sacks)
THE NEXT BEST: DB Joshua Hill (3 INTs, 37 tackles); LB Malik Bridgers (leading tackler in 2017); LB Darron Johnson (40 tackles, 6.5 TFLs); DB Dennis Roberts (38 tackles, 6 TFLs); QB Darryl Pearson (792 yards total offense, 6 TDs); DB Jeffrey Hill (11 PBUs, 32 tackles, 1 INT); DB Kurron Ramsey (6-foot-3 playmaker at safety); RB George Golden (2017 leading rusher); OL Tytus Howard (top senior OL returning).
TOP NEWCOMER: TE Moses Marshall (a Univ. of Kansas transfer)
DID YOU KNOW?: Alabama State was founded right after the Civil War as Lincoln Normal School of Marion in Marion (Ala.). In 1887 it moved to Montgomery, it's current site, and in 1954 it was named Alabama State.
THE QUOTE: "It was a good spring. We are able to establish some depth at some places and move some guys around to help in others. It was good to see our second team guys come out and push the first team today, and that bodes well for the fall. The biggest thing is that we came out of the spring without any major injuries." — Alabama State head coach Donald Hill-Eley said after spring ball
Who is ready to #INVESTintheNEST2019? We're hitting up AL, GA, MO, and SC this week. We need to see guys with the right #STATEofMIND! If you don't see us, remember to sign up to come showcase your talents at https://t.co/Cqs7vXoZhx#MyASU #SECUREtheSWAC pic.twitter.com/vchqyl4KVI
— Coach Donald Hill-Eley (@CoachEleyAsu) May 23, 2018