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 … Central Arkansas.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS (10-2 IN 2017)
Southland Conference (UCA was 1st in 2017)
COACH: Nathan Brown – 1st year (0-0)
2017 OFFENSE: 35.8 ppg. (9th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 17.5 ppg. (14th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: If you believe that some teams just don't understand what losing is like, then you understand Central Arkansas. The Bears haven't had a losing season since 2009 (5-7 record), they are the reigning Southland Conference champions, and they've won 65 of 96 ballgames since 2010. There is a culture of winning at UCA, and you can expect that to continue under first-year head coach Nathan Brown — who not only was on staff under Steve Campbell the last few years, but also quarterbacked the Bears a decade ago. He loves his school and the coaching transition should be very smooth. Now, when it comes to returning starters, the Bears do have some question marks. Quarterbacks like last year's star, Hayden Hildebrand, don't grow on trees, and DB/PR Tremon Smith was taken by Kansas City in the 6th round of the NFL Draft. While this program is one of a winning culture, new names will have to step up (keep an eye on QB Breylin Smith and DL Austin Norris, for instance), so prognostications with this team are a bit tough here in the summer because we don't know exactly who will step up.
FCS RECRUITING: UCA Lands Top 10 Class
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: First off, let's state the obvious — UCA will win more games than it will lose. The streak of winning seasons will remain intact. Now, on paper this doesn't necessarily look like a 10-win or more type team, but then again we don't know how well the backups from a year ago will perform as starters this year. There is immense talent on this team, thanks to an excellent job of recruiting by this coaching staff and the continuity the program has had. I tend to feel like this is a team destined for around 7 or 8 wins in 2018, and then in 2019 will be back in the discussion for Southland championships and maybe more. With Sam Houston State loaded again and programs like Nicholls (not on UCA's schedule) looking strong, a Southland title may be a reach for UCA, but if the youngins' step up? This could be an interesting situation to watch.
TOP RETURNEE: DL Chris Terrell (2nd team 2018 HERO Sports Preseason All American — 20 TFLs, 11 sacks)
THE NEXT BEST: RB Kierre Crossley (Southland Freshman Player of the Year); DB Juan Jackson (2nd team Southland All-Conf.); RB Carlos Blackman (2nd team Southland All-Conf.); RB/KR Cedric Battle (9 total TDs – does it all for UCA); LB Raphael Garner (47 tackles – 3rd leading tackler back); LB Reggio Dean (36 tackles); OL Adrian Harris (started all 12 games as a R-Fr. last year).
TOP NEWCOMER: DB Duke Upshaw (JUCO All American with offers from Southern Miss and Western Kentucky).
DID YOU KNOW?: Scottie Pippen — known best for his years in the NBA playing with Michael Jordan on the way to six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls — is a UCA product.
THE QUOTE: "I'm very pleased with how the defense played situational football. I thought on offense, all three running backs ran hard … I think Breylin continues to show a lot of poise (at quarterback). He just steps up and knows where to go with the football." — UCA head coach Nathan Brown said after the spring game
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #BearClawsUp
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @UCA_Football
Gloves are in! The Bears can catch a cold with these pic.twitter.com/oEYjFNQ2Yx
— UCA Equipment (@uca_equipment) June 14, 2018
FCS QB TRANSFERS: Who Tops The List?