Grambling State Football Preview
Finding a quarterback is priority number one for the Grambling State Tigers in their quest for a third consecutive Celebration Bowl appearance.
Coach Broderick Fobbs' G-Men are missing only three starters from an offense which led the SWAC in scoring with 31.2 points per game. While the losses were minimal in quantity, they were high in quality. Running back Martez Carter and left tackle Trenton Scott were first-team All-SWAC performers while quarterback DeVante Kincade was the 2017 conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Kincade, who directed the Tigers to back-to-back SWAC titles, was the centerpiece of an offense which averaged 367.3 total yards (227.1 passing, 140.2 passing). Besides leading the SWAC in scoring and red zone offense (41-of-46, 89.1 percent), the Tigers ranked second in the entire FCS with a plus-20 turnover margin.
Sophomore quarterback Geremy Hickbottom appeared in nine games as Kincade's backup last season, completing 13-of-29 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns without throwing a pick. Ouachita product Charles Wright, a junior, attempted only one pass in four games.
Former Edna Karr standout Aldon Clark has also entered the fray after transferring from Arkansas State where he redshirted as a true freshman.
Junior Jordan Jones and Kevin Dominique are expected to fill the void at running back. Jordan, who caught 17 passes for 316 yards and five touchdowns while earning second-team All-SWAC honors as the starting tight, was signed by the Tigers as a running back out of Frisco (Texas) Lone Star. Dominique, who prepped at Plaquemine, redshirted as a true freshman at Ball State last fall.
With Jordan returning to his natural position, junior Kalif Jackson is the new tight end. Jackson spent the past three seasons at Florida before joining the Tigers as a graduate transfer.
Led by senior Darrell Clark (44 receptions, 528 yards, 5 TDs), junior Quintin Guice (26-357-1) and senior Devante Davis (21-261-2), the entire starting receiving corps remains intact. Also available is senior Devohn Lindsey (16-169-2, 7 games).
Junior Fred Williams, a massive 6-5, 350-pounder, steps into Scott's former left tackle spot where he joins a quartet of holdovers — senior left guard Darrell Brown, junior center Deandre Sims, junior right guard William Waddell and sophomore right tackle Kyle Davis.
Six starters return from a defense which ranked second in the league in scoring (20.5 points per game) and first against the run (106.8 yards per game) while posting conference highs in interceptions (18) and sacks (44).
Senior middle linebacker De'Arius Christmas, the reigning SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, and a deep line spearhead the unit. Christmas produced team-high in tackles (88) and tackles for loss (17.5) to go with five sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
Juniors De'Andre Hogues (57 tackles, 12 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 INTs, 3 FF), Jeremy Carter (22 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack) and Marchael Jackson (23 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks) will fill the two outside linebackers spots.
Up front, the Tigers welcome back first-team All-SWAC ends Brandon Varner (26 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks) and La'Allan Clark (30 tackles, 11.5, 11 tackles, 11 quarterback hurries), along with junior Anfernee Mullins (27 tackles, 8 TFL, 7 sacks in 8 games). Seniors Linwood Banks (24 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks) and Rodney Jackson (17 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks) of Bastrop are the nose guards.
Senior Percy Cargo Jr. (54 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 INT) is back at the Kat position, but the Tigers will have four new starters in the secondary. Senior cornerback Dedrick Shy (13 tackles, 2 INTs) and junior free safety Chris Grant (19 tackles, 1 INT) are expected to step into the starting lineup after contributing as reserves last fall.
Junior kicker Marc Orozco made 18-of-22 field goals, including 6-of-9 from beyond the 40, while senior punter Miguel Mendez averaged 37.7 yards on 71 punts.
Sophomore Malik Route returned 15 kickoffs for a 22.3-yard average and 15 punts at a 5.7 clip.
Grambling opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Louisiana Lafayette. Kickoff time from Cajun Field is set for 6 p.m.
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Sept. 1 at UL Lafayette 6:00
Sept. 8 at Northwestern St. 6:00
Sept. 22 Alabama State* 6:00
(State Fair Classic, At Dallas)
Sept. 29 vs. Prairie View* 6:00
Oct. 6 Okla. Panhandle 6:00
Oct. 13 at Texas Southern* 6:00
Oct. 20 at Alcorn* 2:00
Oct. 27 UAPB* 2:00
Nov. 3 Miss. Valley* (HC) 2:00
Nov. 10 at Alabama A&M* 1:00
(Bayou Classic, At New Orleans)
Nov. 24 Southern* 4:00