(STATS) - Considering all of Brian Jenkins' success coaching Bethune-Cookman football the last five seasons, the Southwestern Athletic Conference's preseason poll might have seemed odd.

Alabama State was picked to finish only fourth of five teams in the East Division, even with Jenkins coming on board as the team's new coach. Jenkins compiled a 46-14 mark in five seasons at Bethune-Cookman, winning four Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and reaching the FCS playoffs three times.

Nobody at Alabama State is believing the SWAC poll. With a solid roster, some of the conference's better facilities and an overall hunger after a disappointing 2014 campaign, the Hornets are expecting to have success similar to what Jenkins enjoyed in the MEAC, which, like the SWAC, is a conference of historically black schools.

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"I'm OK with those expectations," Jenkins said. "I've never been a guy that says, 'next year,' or that it's going to take us two years or it's going to take us three years. I believe in right now because next year I may not be here, so I may not get the opportunity. Next year, these young men may not be here. So they understand the here and now."

SWAC schools have been trying to get aggressive because their programs' success has fallen behind their counterparts at the MEAC. Every SWAC program except Arkansas-Pine Bluff has had a head coaching change since the start of the 2012 season. This season, the new coaches are Jenkins and Willie Simmons at Prairie View A&M.

Jenkins fits the mold as he pushes his players to a high level of work and discipline, and then the results usually follow.

"I've learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I've learned to adjust on the fly," said Alabama State linebacker Kourtney Berry, the SWAC's preseason defensive player of the year.

Alcorn State, last year's SWAC champion, was favored to win the East Division and reach the SWAC championship again, while Grambling State was a slight pick over Southern in the West. This year's title game will be held Dec. 5 in Houston.

The SWAC winner will go on to face the MEAC champion in the new Celebration Bowl on Dec. 19 in Atlanta.

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PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH=

EAST DIVISION=

1. Alcorn State

2. Alabama State

3. Jackson State

4. Alabama A&M

5. Mississippi Valley State

WEST DIVISION=

1. Southern

2. Grambling State

3. Prairie View A&M

4. Texas Southern

5. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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TEAM CAPSULES=

EAST DIVISION=

1. ALCORN STATE BRAVES

LOCATION: Lorman, Mississippi

STADIUM: Jack Spinks Stadium

COACH: Jay Hopson (23-13 in three seasons at Alcorn State)

LAST SEASON: 10-3 overall, 7-2 SWAC (1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (10 offense/5 defense)

BIG LOSSES: RB Anthony Williams III, DE Deion Roberson, DE Jamil Cooks, S Devon Francois

OFFENSIVE STAR: John Gibbs Jr., QB, Sr., 6-6, 220 (189-for-324, 2,482 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs, 135 carries, 1,006 yards, 11 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Darien Moody, DE, Sr., 6-2, 252 (34 TT, 10.5 TFL, 7.5 SK, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Arron Baker, RB, R-So., 5-10, 235; Darryan Ragsdale, RB, Sr., 5-11, 198; Joe Price, RB, R-Sr., 5-9, 192 (injured last season); De'Lance Turner, RB, 5-11, 205 (Copiah-Lincoln CC transfer); Charles Hughes, WR, R-So., 6-2, 190; Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie, WR, R-Jr., 5-9, 185; Tolette George, WR, R-Sr., 5-10, 165 (missed last season); Isaac Simpson, OL, Sr., 6-5, 367; Jordan Payne, TE, Sr., 6-2, 220; Damon Watkins, LB, Sr., 6-1, 235; Quinton Cantue, DB, Sr., 5-8, 180; Anthony Williams Jr., DB, Sr., 5-10, 185; Warren Gatewood, DB, Sr., 6-0, 175; Haiden McCraney, PK/P, Jr., 6-1, 175

OUTLOOK: Alcorn State is still the team to beat in the SWAC as it comes off its first conference title since 1993. A conference-high nine players made the SWAC preseason team, led by Gibbs, the 2014 Co-SWAC Offensive Player of the Year. He helped the Braves rank second in the FCS in scoring offense (44 ppg) as well as first in the SWAC in total offense (493.8 ypg). Gibbs averaged a whopping 7.5 yards per carry in going over 1,000 yards, and Baker (725 yards, 13 TDs) and Ragsdale (691 yards, 7 TDs) give the deep rushing attack two other big options. In the passing game, Gibbs' safety valve is All-America TE Payne (25 receptions, 463 yards, 5 TDs), but he will be glad to get back WR George, the Braves' leading pass catcher in 2013 before being sidelined last season. Up front, the offensive line allowed only seven sacks last season. If there is vulnerability, it's on defense following some big losses. Only LB Watkins (79 tackles, 10.5 TFL) returns among last year's top five tacklers. Two fellow seniors, DE Moody and Gatewood, also are among the best at their positions in the SWAC. The Braves end the regular season at Jackson State, the only SWAC team to defeat them last season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 3 - at Georgia Tech

Sept. 12 - at Alabama State*

Sept. 19 - vs. Mississippi Valley State*

Sept. 26 - vs. Concordia (Ala.)

Oct. 3 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff* (at Little Rock, Arkansas)

Oct. 17 - vs. Grambling State*

Oct. 31 - at Southern*

Nov. 7 - vs. Prairie View A&M*

Nov. 14 - at Texas Southern*

Nov. 21 - vs. Alabama A&M*

Nov. 28 - at Jackson State*

* - SWAC game

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2. ALABAMA STATE HORNETS

LOCATION: Montgomery, Alabama

STADIUM: Hornet Stadium

COACH: Brian Jenkins (first season at Alabama State; 46-14 overall)

LAST SEASON: 7-5 overall, 5-4 SWAC (2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)

KEY LOSSES: RB Malcolm Cyrus, WR Earl Lucas, DL Derrick Billups, DL Edward Mosley, DB Najee Bright

OFFENSIVE STAR: DeMario Bell, WR/KR, Sr., 6-1, 185 (28 receptions, 625 yards, 4 TDs; 21.7-yard KO return average)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Kourtney Berry, LB, R-Jr., 6-0, 215 (128 TT, 12.5 TFL, 3 SK, 4 PBU, 7 QBH, 3 FR, 2 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Daniel Duhart, QB, R-Sr., 6-0 195; Khalid Thomas, RB/PR, Jr., 5-10, 175; Jamir Hannah, WR, So., 6-3, 200; Joshua Davis, WR, So., 5-11, 177 (injured last season); Jylan Ware, RT, Jr., 6-7, 275; Damian Love, LG, Sr., 6-3, 300; Kerry Williams, C, Jr., 6-2, 295; Robert Roquemore, OL, Sr., 6-7, 315; Antonio Humphrey, DE, Sr., 6-3, 250; Roderick Henderson, DL, R-Jr., 6-1, 348; Deontrelle Silmon, LB, Sr., 6-4, 210; Torrey Davis, LB, R-Jr., 5-11, 218; Daerius Washington, LB, Sr., 6-0, 200; Adam Shepherd, PK, So., 6-5-245

OUTLOOK: ASU replaced Reggie Barlow despite his 49-42 record in eight seasons, but the hiring of Jenkins from Bethune-Cookman indicates the Hornets want to win even more. The Hornets were picked only fourth in the East in the SWAC's preseason poll despite having solid returning talent. His Bethune defenses were tough against the run. At ASU, he will look for the same as the defense is led by All-America LB Berry, the conference's leading tackler last season and its preseason defensive player of the year. Plus, the strength at linebacker goes three-deep with Silman and Washington. On offense, Thomas hopes to follow in the footsteps of recent 1,000-yard RBs Isaiah Crowell and Cyrus. But it all starts with Duhart, who has thrown for over 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career, and he has a terrific playmaker in Bell, who averaged 22.3 yards per reception as a junior. The veteran offensive line returns standouts in Love and Ware. Penalties have plagued ASU in recent seasons, and there were far too many of them with Jenkins' teams at Bethune-Cookman.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 6 - at Tennessee State

Sept. 12 - vs. Alcorn State*

Sept. 19 - vs. Grambling State*

Sept. 26 - at Mississippi Valley State*

Oct. 3 - at Texas Southern*

Oct. 10 - vs. Southern*

Oct. 17 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Oct. 31 - vs. Alabama A&M* (at Birmingham, Alabama)

Nov. 7 - at Jackson State*

Nov. 14 - vs. Prairie View A&M*

Nov. 21 - vs. Miles

* - SWAC game

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3. JACKSON STATE TIGERS

LOCATION: Jackson, Mississippi

STADIUM: Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium

COACH: Harold Jackson (5-7 in one season at Jackson State)

LAST SEASON: 5-7 overall, 3-6 SWAC (Tie/3rd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)

KEY LOSSES: RB Rakeem Sims, OL Jonathan Smith, DB Ryan Griffin, LB Ariane McCree

OFFENSIVE STAR: LaMontiez Ivy, QB, Jr., 6-3, 215 (270-for-422, 3,209 yards, 22 TDs, 14 INTs; 137 carries, 188 yards, 3 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Javancy Jones, DE/LB, Jr., 6-2, 230 (108 TT, 18 TFL, 3 SK, 1 PBU, 4 QBH, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Robert Johnson, RB, So., 6-2, 190; Jarius Moore, RB, Jr., 5-11, 205; Jairus Moll, WR/PR, Sr., 5-9, 180; Dan Williams, WR, Jr., 6-3, 211; DeSean McKenzie, WR, Sr., 6-3, 190; Devin Fosselman, WR, Sr., 5-11, 190; Markus Cook, LG, Jr., 6-3, 310; Robert Harris, C, Jr., 6-2, 280; Christian Marshall, LT, Jr., 6-5, 290; Keontre Anderson, DL, So., 6-4, 230; Cornelius Henderson, DL, Jr., 6-3, 304; Teddrick Terrell, DE/LB, Sr., 6-2, 230; Kwame Bowens, LB, Jr., 6-0, 220; Stacy Noble, LB, Jr., 6-0, 230; Robert Porter, DB, Sr., 6-0, 170; Justin Jemison, DB, Jr., 6-3, 195; Ryan Deising, PK, Sr., 5-10, 195; Darcy Williams, P, Jr., 5-11, 180

OUTLOOK: The craziness of the SWAC was evident with Jackson State last season as it defeated SWAC champion Alcorn State yet handed Mississippi Valley State its only win. The Tigers, who reached the conference championship game in 2012 and '13, are expecting a turnaround after posting a losing record in Jackson's debut, even after two season-ending road wins. Their run-and-shoot offense should run smoother with 3,000-yard passer Ivy again combining with Williams, who caught 73 passes for 1,004 yards and nine touchdowns. Top rushers Moore and Johnson also return to work behind an offensive line anchored by Cook. A switch from a 3-4 defensive alignment back to a 4-3 will move Jones up to defensive end as a bookend to Terrell. The secondary was young going into last season, but now is a strength. The special teams are solid as Deising kicked a SWAC-best 18 field goals last season and Williamson is one of the SWAC's better punters.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Middle Tennessee

Sept. 12 - vs. Tennessee State (at Memphis, Tennessee)

Sept. 19 - at Southern*

Sept. 26 - vs. Texas Southern*

Oct. 3 - vs. Grambling State*

Oct. 17 - at Alabama A&M*

Oct. 24 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Oct. 31 - at Mississippi Valley State*

Nov. 7 - vs. Alabama State*

Nov. 21 - at Prairie View A&M*

Nov. 28 - vs. Alcorn State*

* - SWAC game

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4. ALABAMA A&M BULLDOGS

LOCATION: Huntsville, Alabama

STADIUM: Louis Crews Stadium

COACH: James Spady (4-8 in one season at Alabama A&M)

LAST SEASON: 4-8 overall, 3-6 SWAC (Tie/3rd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 16 (7 offense/9 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Jaymason Lee, WR Montaurius Smith, OT Alan Cruz

OFFENSIVE STAR: Harvey Harris, RB, So., 5-9, 170 (156 carries, 651 yards, 6 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Anthony Lanier, DL, Sr., 6-6, 260 (44 TT, 16 TFL, 3 SK, 4 PBU, 2 FF, 1 BLK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: De'Angelo Ballard, QB, Jr., 6-1, 180 (Southwest Mississippi CC transfer); Damion May, QB, R-Fr., 6-1, 190; Cody Lui-Yuen, QB, R-Fr., 6-2, 210; Brandon Eldemire, RB, Sr., 5-8, 175; Byran Brower, RB, So., 5-10, 210; O'Darius Williams, WR, R-So., 6-0, 170; Tevin McKenzie, WR, Sr., 5-10, 185; Octayvious Miles, WR/KR, So., 5-10, 165; Jonathan Dorsey, TE, Jr., 6-6, 215; Courtney Brown, OL, R-So., 6-0, 290; David Dagrin, DL, Sr., 6-3, 200; Bryan Brower, LB, R-So., 5-10, 220; Darrin Graham, LB, R-Jr., 6-1, 200; Germaine Calmes, DL, R-Jr., 6-1, 230; Devonte Simon, CB, So., 5-11, 170; Dexter Reese, CB, So., 5-9, 150; Danny Johnson, FS, So., 6-2, 185; Rashad Anderson, DB/PR, Jr., 5-10, 160; Cesar Ramon-Diaz, PK, Jr., 5-10, 165; Nic Carden, P, So., 6-3, 190

OUTLOOK: Some building blocks were put in place in Spady's first season, and the Bulldogs are ready for a payoff this year. They lost three times by three or fewer points last season, so they may not be far off from a winning season. But they have only eight seniors on the roster and must find a quarterback after the loss of Lee, who threw for 18 touchdowns. The new signal caller will have plenty of options. A&M features a diverse rushing punch with Harris (651 yards, 6 TDs), Eldemire (530 yards, 6 TDs) and Byran Brower (421 yards, 2 TDs), and, despite the loss of 1,000-yard wideout Smith, the receiving corps has enough targets, led by Williams. Bryan Brower was by far the Bulldogs' leading tackler with 83 last season, but the one opponents fear is Lanier because he gets into backfields regularly. In the secondary, CB Reese and FS Johnson had terrific freshman seasons, combining on eight interceptions and 20 pass breakups. The road schedule is brutally tough, and that includes outside the SWAC, where the Bulldogs face FBS member Cincinnati and FCS power Coastal Carolina.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Cincinnati

Sept. 19 - at Prairie View A&M*

Sept. 26 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Oct. 3 - at Coastal Carolina

Oct. 10 - at Grambling State*

Oct. 17 - vs. Jackson State*

Oct. 31 - at Alabama State* (at Birmingham, Alabama)

Nov. 7 - vs. Mississippi Valley State*

Nov. 14 - at Southern*

Nov. 21 - at Alcorn State*

Nov. 28 - vs. Texas Southern*

* - SWAC game

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5. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE DELTA DEVILS

LOCATION: Itta Bena, Mississippi

STADIUM: Rice-Totten Field

COACH: Rick Comegy (2-9 in one season at Jackson State; 166-95 overall)

LAST SEASON: 2-9 overall, 1-8 SWAC (5th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (11 offense/4 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Patrick Ivy, WR Julian Stafford, DB Avery Boykin, DL Sean Fugate, LB Devon Jones

OFFENSIVE STAR: Quantavius Peterson, QB, Sr., 6-1, 205 (66-for-146, 874 yards, 6 TDs, 7 INTs; 105 carries, 297 yards, 5 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Le'Trey Jones, CB, Sr., 5-9, 180 (74 TT, 9.5 TFL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 3 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Dontrinell Scott, QB, R-Jr., 6-2, 200; Jerrell Moore, RB, R-Sr., 5-11, 185; Charlie Crenshaw, RB/RS, So., 5-8, 165; Trey Ford, WR/DB, Sr., 5-10, 170; Keenan Daniels, WR, Sr., 6-3, 190; Joshua Rice, WR, So., 5-10, 165; Joshua Banks, WR, So., 6-4, 235; Natron Brooks, TE, Jr., 6-3, 210; Trevin Wallace, OL, Sr., 6-6, 315; Sean Brown, OL, Sr., 6-4, 310; Robert Armstrong, DL, So., 6-2, 300; Theron Chatman, DL, So., 6-3, 210; Khalil Young, DL, Jr., 6-5, 241; Lindzell Rhodes, LB, Sr., 6-2, 210; Charles Moore, DB, Sr., 5-10, 180; Tre Price, DB, Jr., 5-9, 175; Tracy Newton, LS, Jr., 6-4, 188; Ruben Piraquive, PK/P, So., 5-9, 160

OUTLOOK: With 17 returning seniors and all the lettermen in their second season in the Comegy system, the Delta Devils seek to make a jump in the SWAC standings. The coaching staff focused on fast players in their recruiting class. An experienced offense should build on last season's 17.7 points and 307.8 yards per game - both conference lows. Peterson has the full-time job at quarterback following Ivy's departure and will be a dual-threat. His offensive line, though, needs considerable improvement after allowing 44 sacks last season. The defense returns only three starters and figures to struggle again. The top players trying to lift the unit's performance are in the secondary - Jones, the leading tackler last season, and fellow senior Moore. The Delta Devils have a particularly rugged road schedule, including trips to FBS member New Mexico and FCS power Jacksonville State. But Comegy (55 wins at Jackson State from 2006-13) knows the SWAC well, so he could sneak in an upset or two.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at New Mexico

Sept. 12 - vs. Southern*

Sept. 19 - at Alcorn State*

Sept. 26 - vs. Alabama State*

Oct. 3 - at Jacksonville State

Oct. 10 - at Prairie View A&M*

Oct. 17 - vs. Texas Southern*

Oct. 24 - at Grambling State*

Oct. 31 - vs. Jackson State*

Nov. 7 - at Alabama A&M*

Nov. 21 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

* - SWAC game

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WEST DIVISION

1. SOUTHERN JAGUARS

LOCATION: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

STADIUM: Ace W. Mumford Stadium

COACH: Dawson Odums (22-13 in three seasons at Southern)

LAST SEASON: 9-4 overall, 8-1 SWAC (1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)

KEY LOSSES: OL Zach Brown, OL Dewayne Houston, LB/FB Brian McCain, DE Arthur Miley, DE Jaylan Jordan, DB Kevin King, DB D'Andre Woodland

OFFENSIVE STAR: Lenard Tillery, RB, R-Jr., 5-10, 186 (209 carries, 1,196 yards, 9 TDs; 19 receptions, 196 yards)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Danny Johnson, DB, So., 5-10, 175 (40 TT, 1 TFL, 3 INTs, 11 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Austin Howard, QB, So., 6-0, 190; Deonte Shorts, QB, R-So., 6-2, 180; Malcom Crockett, RB, Sr., 5-10, 201; Willie Quinn, WR/RS, Sr., 5-5, 145; Justin Morgan, WR, Sr., 5-10, 172; Randall Menard, WR, Jr., 6-3, 185 (injured last season); Mike Jones, WR, R-Sr., 6-0, 189; Terrell Lee, OL, R-Jr., 6-2, 301; Jamal Boulden, OL, R-Jr., 6-2, 266; Anthony Mosley, OL, Sr., 6-2, 282 (missed last season); Gabe Echols, DT, Sr., 6-2, 244; Justin Woods, DL, Sr., 5-10, 268; Martin Henry, LB, R-Sr., 5-11, 230; Roshaud Turner, LB, Jr., 5-9, 220; Daniel Brown, LB, Jr., 6-4, 244; Demetrius Carter, LB, R-Sr., 6-0, 225; Dionte McDuffy, S, R-Sr., 6-1, 205; Rhaheim Ledbetter, DB, R-Sr., 5-10, 206; Greg Pittman, PK/P, Sr., 5-11, 179

OUTLOOK: The Jaguars have won the West title and played in the SWAC championship each of Odums' first two full seasons on the sideline, but a delayed APR penalty from the NCAA meant there was no spring football at Southern this year. Still, the Jaguars expect to make a return trip to Houston in December, having placed eight players on the SWAC preseason team. The offense should be exceptional with the return of RB Tillery and WR Quinn (62 receptions, 892 yards, 5 TDs) as well as a more-seasoned QB Howard, the SWAC offensive freshman of the year who threw for 2,334 yards and 17 TDs. The defense suffered more key losses than the offense, but DT Echols, LB Carter (team-high 101 tackles) and S McDuffy provide senior leadership, and CB Johnson is coming off a banner freshman campaign. It might be hard for the Jaguars to match last year's seven combined touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns (Quinn had three), but they will try. Southern, the only SWAC program to be playing two FBS opponents (Louisiana Tech and Georgia), is primed for another big season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Louisiana Tech

Sept. 12 - at Mississippi Valley State*

Sept. 19 - vs. Jackson State*

Sept. 26 - at Georgia

Oct. 10 - at Alabama State*

Oct. 17 - vs. Prairie View A&M*

Oct. 24 - at Texas Southern*

Oct. 31 - vs. Alcorn State*

Nov. 7 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Nov. 14 - vs. Alabama A&M*

Nov. 28 - vs. Grambling State* (at New Orleans)

* - SWAC game

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2. GRAMBLING STATE TIGERS

LOCATION: Grambling, Louisiana

STADIUM: Eddie Robinson Stadium

COACH: Broderick Fobbs (7-5 in one season at Grambling State)

LAST SEASON: 7-5 overall, 7-2 SWAC (2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (10 offense/7 defense)

KEY LOSSES: RB Juwan Martin, OL Anthony Cherry, LB Steve Orisakwe, LB Aaron Breed, FS Tyree Hollins, DB LeAndre Vallot

OFFENSIVE STAR: Johnathan Williams, QB, Sr., 5-11, 185 (168-for-287, 2,454 yards, 18 TDs, 7 INTs; 118 carries, 484 yards, 8 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Jamison Goins, DE, Sr., 6-2, 279 (39 TT, 8.5 TFL, 3 SK, 1 QBH)

STARTERS RETURNING: 17 (10 offense/7 defense)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Stephen Johnson, QB, So., 6-2, 180; Jestin Kelly, RB, Jr., 5-11, 240; Chad Williams, WR, So., 6-2, 193; Chester Rogers, WR, Sr., 6-1, 180; Verlon Hunter, WR, Jr., 6-2, 200; Jevonta Williams, DL, Sr., 6-3, 262; Michael Jolivet, DE, Sr., 6-3, 215; Arkez Cooper, LB, Jr., 6-3, 225; Henry Taylor, LB, Sr., 6-0, 215; Nicholas Peoples, DB, Sr., 5-11, 180; Dwight Amphy, CB, Sr., 5-10, 175; Mike Roach, DB, Sr., 5-11, 185; Marc Orozco, PK, So., 5-10, 175; Jonathan Wallace, P, Jr., 6-0, 175

OUTLOOK: A seven-game winning streak last year made the Tigers relevant again after they had suffered back-to-back one-win seasons, including a controversy-filled 2013 campaign. Fobbs led the turnaround in his first season back at his alma mater, although the Tigers lost late control of the West Division race. They want to get to the conference title game this season and their motto is "What's Important Now" - i.e., "W.I.N." They have to overcome the loss of 20 seniors, but they're glad to bring back QB Jonathan Williams, who led the SWAC in total offense with 326.4 yards per game. He will team again with a trio of receivers - Rogers, Williams and Hunter - who combined for 118 receptions, 1,858 receiving yards and 16 touchdown receptions last season. The defense was in on 45 sacks a year ago, but lost some key pass rushers. Still, there is enough depth up front with Stalling, McCray, Jolivet, Goins and Jevon Williams that the Tigers will continue to be aggressive and productive. A trip to Cal opens what should be another successful campaign.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at California

Sept. 12 - vs. Bethune-Cookman

Sept. 19 - at Alabama State*

Sept. 26 - vs. Prairie View A&M* (at Dallas)

Oct. 3 - at Jackson State*

Oct. 10 - vs. Alabama A&M*

Oct. 17 - at Alcorn State*

Oct. 24 - vs. Mississippi Valley State*

Nov. 7 - vs. Texas Southern*

Nov. 14 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Nov. 28 - vs. Southern* (at New Orleans)

* - SWAC game

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3. PRAIRIE VIEW A&M PANTHERS

LOCATION: Prairie View, Texas

STADIUM: Waller ISD Stadium

COACH: Willie Simmons (first season at Prairie View A&M)

LAST SEASON: 5-5 overall, 5-4 SWAC (3rd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 12 (6 offense/6 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Jerry Lovelocke, WR Greg Thurmond, WR Gabe Dunlap, OL Tre Glover, OL Dillon Bonnet, LB Jerome Howard, LB Danny Brownell

OFFENSIVE STAR: Johnta' Hebert, RB/RS, Sr., 5-10, 185 (170 carries, 1,063 yards, 12 TDs; 32 receptions, 269 yards, 2 TDs; 28.8-yard KO return average, 1 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Damond Jackson, S, So., 6-0, 210 (80 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: De'Aunte Smiley, QB, R-Sr., 6-2, 250; David "Trey" Green, QB, R-Jr., 6-2, 220; Courtney Brown, RB, R-Sr., 6-0, 215 (injured last season); Nick Pitre, WR, Jr., 6-4, 185; Rayshaun Givens, WR, R-So., 6-2, 190; Key'andre Hearvey, WR, Fr., 6-2, 185; Jordan Johnson, C/OG, R-Jr., 6-2, 275; Denzel Lewis, OT, Grad, 6-4, 305; Shawn Pierce, OT, R-So., 6-4, 290; DeVohn Reed, DE, R-So., 6-2, 255; JamesPaul Bryant, DE, R-Jr., 6-3, 220; Akeem Barton, DE, So., 6-2, 233; Meshak Williamson, DE, Sr., 6-3, 225; Stephen Meighan, S, Sr., 5-10, 180; Foster Brown II, CB, R-Jr., 6-0, 200; Jalen Thibodeaux, DB, R-So., 5-10, 180

OUTLOOK: The Panthers like to say there is a new sheriff in town with Simmons, who spent the last three seasons as Alcorn State's offensive coordinator. He had terrific offensive weapons at Alcorn and that won't change with Prairie View's running backs. The Panthers feature Hebert, who led the FCS in all-purpose yards per game (225.3) and the SWAC in touchdowns (15) as a junior, and Brown, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2013 who was sidelined by an injury last season. Green and Smiley are battling to replace standout QB Lovelocke. The defense being in flux is nothing new. Ralph Street comes in as the team's fifth defensive coordinator in five years. Leading tacklers Howard and Brownell are gone, leaving big holes at linebacker. The young blood comes in the form of DE Reed and S Jackson, who are standout sophomores. The Panthers will play the 2015 season at Waller ISD Stadium while a new $60 million complex is being constructed at the old Edward L. Blackshear Field.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Texas Southern*

Sept. 12 - at Texas State

Sept. 19 - vs. Alabama A&M*

Sept. 26 - vs. Grambling State* (at Dallas)

Oct. 3 - vs. University of Faith

Oct. 10 - vs. Mississippi Valley State*

Oct. 17 - at Southern*

Oct. 31 - vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Nov. 7 - at Alcorn State*

Nov. 14 - at Alabama State*

Nov. 21 - vs. Jackson State*

* - SWAC game

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4. TEXAS SOUTHERN TIGERS

LOCATION: Houston

STADIUM: BBVA Compass Stadium

COACH: Darrell Asberry (9-24 in three seasons at Texas Southern; 49-49 overall)

LAST SEASON: 5-6 overall, 3-6 SWAC (Tie/4th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Jamaal Small, RB Daveonn Porter, WR Fred Plummer, DB Brandon Thomas, DB Tray Walker, DB Le'Tevin Wilcox

OFFENSIVE STAR: Glenn Jackson, OL, R-Sr., 6-2, 290

DEFENSIVE STAR: Amir Bloom, DE, R-Sr., 6-4, 245

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Johnathan Bowen, QB, Jr., 6-3, 200 (redshirt last season); Jimmy Potepa, RB, R-Jr., 5-8, 200 (84 carries, 392 yards, 2 TDs); Larry Clark III, WR, Jr., 6-0, 185; Malik Cross, WR/PR, R-Sr., 5-11, 190; Derrick Griffin, WR, So., 6-7, 230; Billy Rosenberg, TE, Sr., 6-5, 247; Jahlil Mathis-Ellis, OL, So., 6-3, 315; Adrian Jackson, OL, Jr., 6-2, 294; Derrick Lyles, DL, Jr., 6-2, 290; Arthell Wyre, DL, R-Sr., 6-2, 280; Darian Claiborne, LB, Jr., 6-0, 225; Jarius Moore, LB, Sr., 5-11, 220; Zaccheaus Bamijoko, LB, R-Jr., 6-1, 240; Homer Causey, S, R-Sr., 6-0, 190; Demetrius Johnson, DB, Jr., 6-1, 180; Eric Medina, PK, Jr., 5-11, 195; Cory Carter, P, Sr., 5-11, 220

OUTLOOK: TSU is moving forward under Asberry, eligible once again for the postseason again after serving a three-year ban by the NCAA. The Tigers had an experienced team last season and won five of their first six games before closing with five straight SWAC losses. They will rely on their upperclassmen again, although former QB Causey has switched to the secondary to make way for the athletic Bowen, who can throw the deep ball. He needs players like RB Potepa (84 carries, 392 yards, 2 TDs) and WRs Clark and Cross to take big steps in production. Former Prairie View A&M head coach Heishma Northern is the Tigers' new defensive coordinator. Claiborne was the SWAC's newcomer of the year and led the team with 77 tackles, three more than fellow LB Moore. With a 45-yard punting average, Carter ranked third in the FCS in punting average. The Tigers jump right into the season - they open with SWAC rival Prairie View in the Labor Day Classic.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - vs. Prairie View A&M*

Sept. 11 - vs. Bacone College

Sept. 19 - at Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

Sept. 26 - at Jackson State*

Oct. 3 - vs. Alabama State*

Oct. 17 - at Mississippi Valley State*

Oct. 24 - vs. Southern*

Oct. 31 - vs. College of Faith

Nov. 7 - at Grambling State*

Nov. 14 - vs. Alcorn State*

Nov. 28 - at Alabama A&M*

* - SWAC game

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5. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF GOLDEN LIONS

LOCATION: Pine Bluff, Arkansas

STADIUM: Golden Lion Stadium

COACH: Monte Coleman (35-43 in seven seasons at Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

LAST SEASON: 4-7 overall, 3-6 SWAC (Tie/4th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (6 offense/9 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Ben Anderson, FB Michael Wilson, WR Isiah Ferguson, WR Joel Porchia, TE C.J. Branch, OL Me'kale Carter, PK Tyler Strickland, P Dylan Neiheiser

OFFENSIVE STAR: Willie Young, WR/KR, R-So., 6-1, 180 (45 receptions, 727 yards, 9 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Demarcus Berry, DE, Jr., 6-3, 250 (53 TT, 17 TFL, 8.5 SK, 4 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Marcus Terrell, QB, R-So., 6-3, 190; Nolan Sorensen, QB, Jr., 6-4, 220 (Fresno City College transfer); Brian Handley, RB, Jr., 5-9, 200; John Hawkins, WR, So., 5-11, 185; Cody Swain, WR, Jr., 5-11, 180; Terrence Knighten, RG, So., 6-2, 285; David Adams, RT, So., 6-4, 300; Jontrell Lockett, DE, Jr., 6-0, 240; Marc Lucien, DT, Jr., 6-3, 260; Joshua Smith, DT, Sr., 6-1, 290; Ryan Williams, DT, Jr., 6-2, 290; Willie Duncan, LB, So., 6-0, 220; Kyle Walker, LB, R-Jr., 5-10, 210; Kevin Rucker, FS, R-Sr., 5-11, 195; David White, DB. R-Fr., 6-2, 180; Andre Mitchell, DB, Jr., 5-9, 170

OUTLOOK: Coleman enters his eighth season as the dean of SWAC coaches (it's his 13th at UAPB). He needs a quick fix on offense following the loss of QB Anderson. Terrell hopes to lead an offense which has standouts in big-play WR Young and RB Handley (820 yards, 2 TDs), who had three 100-yard games last season. The defense struggled against good offenses, surrendering over 50 points four times. But the unit returns nine starters and figures to be improved. Berry is one of the SWAC's better pass rushers and leads a formidable defensive line. As a freshman, Duncan led the team in tackles with 100. Rucker also joined Berry and Duncan on the SWAC preseason team. The early season spotlight game is against TSU after opening against South Carolina State in the annual MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 6 - vs. South Carolina State (at Orlando, Florida)

Sept. 12 - vs. Morehouse

Sept. 19 - vs. Texas Southern*

Sept. 26 - at Alabama A&M*

Oct. 3 - vs. Alcorn State* (at Little Rock, Arkansas)

Oct. 17 - vs. Alabama State*

Oct. 24 - at Jackson State*

Oct. 31 - at Prairie View A&M*

Nov. 7 - vs. Southern*

Nov. 14 - vs. Grambling State*

Nov. 21 - at Mississippi Valley State*

* - SWAC game