HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Alcorn State.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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ALCORN STATE (9-4 IN 2018)
The SWAC (ASU was East Champion in 2018)
COACH: Fred McNair – At School: 4th year (20-15 record), Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 Celebration Bowl runners up to North Carolina A&T
2018 OFFENSE: 32.6 ppg. (24th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 21.5 ppg. (18th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 26 – vs. Southern U: Last year, these two teams faced off twice — in the regular season, and in the SWAC Championship game. Alcorn State won both, and the Braves will have to get past this one if they want to go forward. Pencil this one in as a biggie — and there's always that potential for a rematch again.
SUM IT UP: There's good reason that Alcorn State is in our preseason FCS Top 25 and our favorite to win the Celebration Bowl this year. North Carolina A&T fans may question that after winning the last two HBCU national titles, but the Braves are absolutely loaded, boast one of the nation's top FCS quarterbacks in Noah Johnson, have playmakers galore and there is a winning culture in Lorman under head coach Fred McNair. Four offensive linemen who started in the Celebration Bowl return to the trenches and Kevin Hall is receiving a lot of attention from NFL scouts. RB De'Shawn Waller is an All-American caliber back, and four of Johnson's top five targets in a balanced passing attack are returning. Pick your poison in this lethal attack that was a Top 25 offense in the FCS last year and returns virtually everything.
On defense, seven players who started in the Celebration Bowl return to the lineup from a Top 20 defense. Players like DL Sterling Shippy — who signed as a free agent with the Colts — will surely be missed, but the top five tacklers all return, the INT leader returns (Javen Morrison) and the leading sack man is back (Terry Whittington). This group will be stingy.
OUR TAKE: Alcorn State should be favored in every FCS game it plays, so the question is this — what can the Braves do when they face FBS Southern Miss in the opener? Typically, SWAC teams have struggled when they've faced FBS opponents, with the exception being Grambling when it faced Arizona a few years back and gave the Wildcats all they wanted. We feel like this year's Alcorn State team has what it takes to challenge an FBS team that doesn't respect it. That will be a fun game to watch. We feel very strongly that this Alcorn State team is destined to be in double-digits in the win column, and should be favored in all games against teams from its own level or below — but never take for granted those rivalry games within the SWAC.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./OL Kevin Hall (HERO Sports 1st Team Preseason All-American)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./QB Noah Johnson (HERO Sports 3rd Team Preseason All-American – 2,200 yard passer and a 1,000 yard rusher — accounted for 26 TDs); Sr./DL Terry Whittington (14.5 TFLs, 7 hurries, 56 tackles); Sr./RB De'Shawn Waller (HERO Sports 3rd Team Preseason All American – 1,206 yards rushing, 12 TDs); Sr./DB Javen Morrison (4 INTs); Jr./DB Qwynnterrio Cole (HERO Sports Sophomore All American last year, 3 INTs, 76 tackles); Sr./LB Solomon Muhammad (64 tackles, 9 TFLs, 9 hurries); Sr./OL Mustaffa Ibrahim (1st Team All SWAC last fall); Sr./OL Deonte Brooks (2nd Team All SWAC); Sr./LB Brelion Hollis (57 tackles, 9 TFLs); Sr./K-P Corey McCullough (17 of 25 on field goals, 40.4 yds per punt); Sr./WR Chris Blair (leading receiver, 43 catches, 529 yds, 6 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./LB Jordan Richo (HERO Sports' No. 45 ranked national recruit for FCS 2019 class, reported offers from Minnesota and Rutgers among others)
THE QUOTE: "They're more of an older group. We've got some older guys who have been in the war before, so we're going to keep it going and make sure they understand the concept of what we want to do … Expectations are always high, especially coming up with a championship year last year. That's one of the things I always talk to the coaching staff about as well as the players, expectations. Our goal is reachable, it's attainable so we're going to keep plugging and trying to do the right thing with these young men, going to class and all the little things in preparation for this season." — Head Coach Fred McNair said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Alcorn State Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The SWAC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast