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 … Tennessee State.
TENNESSEE STATE (6-5)
The OVC (Tied for 7th in OVC)
COACH: Rod Reed – 9th year (49-42 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 24.3 ppg (60th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 19.6 ppg (23rd in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The Tigers were a bit up and down last year, and definitely want to fix that in 2018. They opened the season with a win over an FBS program (Georgia State), but also handed Tennessee Tech its lone win in 2017. Overall? they did manage to finish with a winning record. So what's the recipe for 2018? Another round of good, solid defense can be expected. The nation's second-best pass defense is mostly intact in the secondary. Also, key transfers should help fill other holes left by graduation on defense. On offense, the top five rushers are back, as well as one of the OVC's top receivers, but the quarterback and O-line positions need to tighten up to make the "O" more competitive. In all, eight starters return.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Tigers will be a team to keep an eye on, and they're a perfect example of why the banter has been that the OVC will be much stronger this year, as a collective. Everybody knows TSU will be strong on defense, but the offense looks like it has the tools to improve. Plus, key games like Jacksonville State and UT Martin are on campus at Hale Stadium, which is key. TSU is going to be a very, very tough out for OVC opponents, and should not be taken likely. Thanks to a ton of early road games, they might take an early punch in the mouth or two — we'll say the ceiling here in 7 wins, worst case scenario is 5 wins and mark this down … TSU is going to ruin somebody's season this fall.
TOP RETURNEE: DB Vincent Sellers (HERO Sports Freshman All American – 2 INTs, 49 tackles)
THE NEXT BEST: WR Steven Newbold (34 catches, 627 yards, 4 TDs); WR/KR/PR Chris Rowland (all-around playmaking threat); DB LaQuarius Cook (61 tackles, 2 INTs); OC Thomas Burton (returning starter); OT Jamahl Jelks (returning starter); LB Blair Edwards (59 tackles, 6 TFLs); DL Dell Porter (4 TFL, 28 tackles); DB Dajour Nesbeth (2 INTs, 9 PBUs, 48 tackles).
TOP NEWCOMER: DL Mekhi Brown (Alabama transfer)
DID YOU KNOW?: Oprah Winfrey, the world renown show host, actress, author and now CEO, is a graduate of Tennessee State, where she majored in communications. She won an oratory contest which helped land her a scholarship to the university.
THE QUOTE: "We play an HBCU schedule, and that’s our heritage. We wouldn’t have it any other way. It just works out this year that we’re going to play a bunch of road games. We’ve got to be road warriors. Our kids are up for the challenge. The lines are the same on all of those fields. You’ve just got to travel." — coach Rod Reed said at OVC media days, when asked about facing six consecutive road games
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #BigBlueRising
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @tsu_football
— TSU Athletics (@TSU_Tigers) August 9, 2018
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