HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Southern University.
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.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
- FCS Home
- FCS Preview Schedule – Team Links
- The HERO Sports Preseason Top 25 Poll
- Preseason All-American Teams
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY (7-4 IN 2018)
The SWAC (SU was 1st in West in 2018)
COACH: Dawson Odums – At School: 8th year (50-27 record) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (lost to Alcorn State in SWAC Title Game)
2018 OFFENSE: 28.3 ppg. (55th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 25.2 ppg. (38th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 12 vs Prairie View A&M – We know it'd be easy to slip in the Bayou Classic or the Alcorn State rematch in here. But we feel like Prairie View has something special brewing in 2018 and Southern U. is going to need to take care of the Panthers before it sets its sights on SWAC champ Alcorn State or the illustrious Bayou Classic.
SUM IT UP: With nine claimed black college national championships, 19 SWAC titles, an all-time winning percentage of 62% and a plethora of big names who've gone on to play professional football, Southern U. is easily one of the most recognized brands in the HBCU ranks. Last year the Jaguars did what they usually do — they won a majority of their games and they battled for a conference title in December. There's no reason to believe they couldn't find themselves in that position once again in 2019. Standing in the way of another SWAC West first-place finish are likely an upstart Prairie View A&M team and typical SWAC power Grambling. And in the SWAC, Alcorn State looks like the team to beat once again.
On offense, QB Ladarius Skelton returns after putting up strong numbers, but he needs some of the returnees or newcomers at wide receiver to emerge this fall. The Jaguars moved the ball on the ground better than through the air last year, but Skelton is slippery and can get it accomplished either way. He also has some highly decorated offensive linemen ahead of him who know how to get it done during gridiron trench warfare. Oh, and RB Devon Benn can also tote the pigskin. There is a nice core returning here, and the defense was pretty strong last year statistically (we'll get to that in a minute). That balance will keep Southern U. in ballgames all season.
The defense looks like a group that could really dominate this year. You especially have to love what is returning on the defensive line and in the secondary, and then when you look at this year's signing class, you realize even more help is coming. Statistically, if you take the two blowout losses to FBS teams away from last year's slate, this defensive unit did a pretty decent job against the HBCU ranks, and they'll do it again this time around. Look for turnovers, too. The turnover margin was a strength for the team, so if Southern U. can keep that up and cut down on the penalties (106th in the FCS last year), this program should be in good shape again.
OUR TAKE: Let's face it, Southern U. is always going to be good. When breaking down the non-conference schedule, the Jaguars certainly aren't shying away from the competition. Trips to FBS Memphis and to Southland power McNeese and a much-improved FAMU out of the MEAC … let's just say if Southern notches a win in any of the three of these, it is going to turn some heads nationally. There are two lower-division games on the schedule too, which should lead to two wins … and Southern should be considered the favorite in the majority of its SWAC matchups. We think the ceiling here is eight wins and a SWAC title game spot, and the worst-case scenario is .500 with no SWAC title appearance. There's some wiggle room here. Southern will be solid, it's just that we think the SWAC may be deeper than in recent years.
[divider]SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast
COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./OL Jodeci Harris (1st Team 2018 All SWAC)
THE FOUNDATION: Soph./DL Jordan Lewis (HERO Sports Freshman All American – 9 sacks as a freshman); Sr./OL Jaylon Brinson (2nd Team 2018 All SWAC); Jr./QB Ladarius Skelton (997 yards passing, 10 TDs; 530 yards rushing, 8 TDs); Jr./RB Devon Benn (788 yards rushing, 3 TDs): Sr./LB Calvin Lunkins (2018 leading tackler with 82 stops, 10.5 TFLs); Sr./DB Montavius Gaines (55 tackles, 5 TFLs, 6 PBUs); Sr./TE Jeremias Houston (Preseason All SWAC); Sr./DL Joe Davis (56 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 hurries); Jr./DB Jakoby Pappillion (3 INTs, 23 tackles, 4 PBU); Jr./K-P Cesar Barajas (42.3 yards per punt).
TOP ADDITION: Fr./DB Bertrand Carrell (No. 11 overall signee in the FCS in HERO Sports 2019 Recruiting Top 300 — 3 SEC offers, 11 FBS total reported)
THE QUOTE: "Year one and Year seven are the same for me. I focus on the things I can control and the things I can’t, I leave that for my greater God to take care of. I’ve been blessed to be here for seven years and to have an opportunity to be successful, and have this program going in the right direction. It has not been easy but it has been fun." — Head Coach Dawson Odums said to The Advocate during media days
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Southern U. Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The SWAC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast