Southern University Football Preview
Looking to build on last year's second-place SWAC West finish, the Southern Jaguars return seven starters on both sides of the ball.
Seventh-year head coach Dawson Odums is looking to replace quarterback Austin Howard and running Herb Edwards from an offense which ranked fourth in the SWAC in scoring (27.4 points per game), third in rushing (162.3 yards per game), fifth in passing (210.6 ypg) and third in total offense (372.9 ypg).
Odums said Monday that John Lampley has received the starting nod over fellow sophomores Bubba McDaniel and Ladarius Skelton for Saturday's season opener at TCU. Appearing in seven games in a backup role last year, Lampley completed 14-of-26 passes for 114 yards and added 118 yards rushing.
Upon announcing Lampley as the starter, Odums said all three quarterbacks would see action in the first three games leading up to conference play.
Southern also has a long list of candidates at running back. Devon Benn (87 carries, 459 yards, 4 touchdowns) is the top returning rusher from last year's 7-4 squad (7-2 SWAC). Darbben Profit, who injured his hamstrong shortly before the 2017 season opener, is pushing for playing time along with Alabama Birmingham transfers Alexander Rodriguez and Carlos Stephens.
Whoever eventually settles in at quarterback will have a deep cast of receivers to choose from.
Sophomores Jamar Washington (37 receptions, 413 yards, 3 TDs), Kendall Catalon (24-336-2) and Cameron Mackey (19-252-2) are all back. Sixth-year senior Randall Menard (11-91), the lone remaining member of the 2013 SWAC championship team, is competing for snaps after missing the final seven games with a broken leg.
Senior Dennis Craig (11-165-3) and junior Jeremias Houston step into the tight end spot vacated by first-team All-SWAC performer Dillon Beard.
Center Jaylon Brinson and Jeremiah Abby, a pair of juniors, anchor the offensive front.
End Aaron Tiller (50 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks) and Danny Johnson (54 tackles, 3 interceptions), a pair of first-team All-Conference selections, leave big holes to fill.
Southern ranked seventh in the SWAC in points allowed (27.7 ppg), seventh against the run (166.5 ypg), fifth against the pass (184.8 ypg) and sixth in total offense (351.4 ypg).
Seniors Simeon Houston (16 tackles, 3.5 TFL in 8 games), Caejae Bryant (28 tackles, 5.5 TFL) and juniors Dehavion Champion (16 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks), Dehavion Champion (16 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) and Jaron Johnson (15 tackles, 2 TFL) are expected to contribute up front.
Senior Calvin Lunkins (44 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks) and sophomore Kyle McGregor will be asked to help offset the loss of Kentavion Preston (71 tackles), the team's leading tackler in 2017, at linebacker.
Junior Montavius Gaintes (50 tackles) and seniors Demerio Houston (26 tackles, 1 INT, 15 pass breakups) and Andre Augustine (54 tackles, 3 INTs) headline the secondary.
Southern struggled in the kicking game last fall as sophomore Ceasar Barajas was just 6-of-14 with a long of 45 while having six kicks blocked.
Junior Taylor Merritt, a former Arcadia Hornet, punted 35 times for a 35.1-yard average.
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Sept. 1 at TCU 11 a.m.
Sept. 8 at Louisiana Tech 6:00
Sept. 15 Langston 6:00
Sept. 22 at Alabama A&M* 4:00
Sept. 29 Alcorn State* 6:00
Oct. 13 at Prairie View* 5:00
Oct. 20 at Texas Southern* 2:00
Oct. 27 Jackson State* 6:00
Nov. 10 UAPB* 4:00
(Bayou Classic, at New Orleans)
Nov. 24 Grambling 4:00