BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WAFB) - The 2019 SWAC Media Day was held Tuesday, July 16 in Birmingham, Ala.
The Southern Jaguars are picked to win the SWAC West ahead of Prairie View and Grambling State. Alcorn State, the defending SWAC champion, is picked to take the East.
Southern has six players selected to the preseason All-SWAC teams. Senior offensive lineman Jodeci Harris and sophomore linebacker Jordan Lewis are first-team picks. Junior running back Devon Benn, sophomore offensive lineman Jaylon Brinson, senior tight end Jeremias Houston, and senior defensive back Montavious Gaines are all second-team selections.
Southern’s players said they are focused on going beyond winning a division. Their goal is a championship.
“I think it would mean a lot to Jaguar nation if we could bring a championship back to the Bluff,” said Harris.
“We have a chip on our shoulder, like I said," added senior linebacker Calvin Lunkins. "We didn’t finish last year.”
“Well, it’s kind of like you’re jogging and you set your mind to run 13 miles and you’ve been stopping at eight," explained head coach Dawson Odums. "At some point in time, you have to get tired of stopping at eight. It has to hurt and you have to push yourself beyond the pain. You can’t get to the place we want to go without going through some pain. You’re not going to beat Alcorn unless you’re tired and it hurts losing to them. I think you have to get past that. Once you get to that point, you can move forward. We’re tired of losing to them. I think, as a team, at the end of the day, we realize that’s been the thorn in our side. Now, how are we going to prepare ourselves and get ourselves ready for the next chapter in our life when it comes to playing Alcorn?”
Odums added that despite the fact the Jags changed coordinators, the defense shouldn’t change much. The strength of the team, on the offense especially, is probably the offensive line. Also, junior quarterback Ladairius Skelton certainly can make things happen with that kind of advantage.
“He’s grown a lot, because he knows the playbook now. He knows his reads. When you don’t have to think as much, you can play a lot faster. On the O-line, we have six that have started and several more that have played,” Harris stated.
But before the Jags can contend for a SWAC title, they have a tough non-conference schedule awaiting them that largely lies on the road.
Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland announced in advance of next year’s 100th anniversary of the league that the future location of the football championship will remain on the campuses of the highest seed.
“After reviewing several significant proposals that we received in regards to hosting the SWAC Football Championship game and in consultation with the SWAC’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors, the decision has been made to keep the game on campus,” said McClelland.
The 2019 SWAC Championship game has been slated for Saturday, December 7. The game is scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPNU at 3 p.m.
The change means the SWAC Championship could go through Lorman, Miss. and Alcorn State.
The Braves had 14 picks to the All-SWAC teams to lead all schools, including quarterback Noah Johnson, who was named 2019 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year.
Johnson had an impressive season in 2018. He led the Braves to a SWAC Championship title and Celebration Bowl appearance.
He threw for 2,207 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 1,080 yards and 11 touchdowns. Johnson rushed for 7.5 yards per carry, which was good enough to rank him No. 3 in the nation in rushing yards per carry. He was No. 16 in the NCAA in completion percentage with .621.