Looking to pick up the mantle from McCoy is sophomore quarterback Malcolm Long (6-3, 235 lbs.). The Gaffney native and former ‘Mr. South Carolina Football' displayed glimpses of potential in spot duty, including a two-touchdown performance against Howard University and his size, arm strength and mobility is reminiscent of another former Central Florida quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
Should Long struggle, quarterback DeWaine Clark is waiting in the wings as a capable backup. The 6-4, 215-pound redshirt freshman had a strong showing in the Spring Game and his mobility gives S.C. State additional options on offense.
When it comes to running the football, William Ford is almost peerless in the MEAC. In two seasons, the 5-11, 221-pound Travelers Rest native has rushed for 2,141 yards and 14 touchdowns and set a single-game school record with 332 yards against North Carolina A&T last season.
Backing up Ford is University of Auburn transfer Anthony Campbell (5-9, 195) and junior Travil Jamison (6-0, 210) and fullbacks Kenneth Smalls (5-10, 240) and Naval Academy transfer Zachary Middleton.
Although the Bulldogs lost three starters on the offensive line, the returning players all saw significant playing time last season. All-MEAC center and preseason Sports Network third-team All-American Raymond ‘Duck' Harrison (6-2, 275) will start his fourth consecutive season and will be joined by tackles sophomore Johnny Culbreath (6-6, 310), redshirt senior Nygel Pearson (6-6, 305), who's overcome two straight years of foot and hand injuries, and guards Devon Dawson (6-3, 250) and Josh Harrison (6-4, 310).
The position is rich in reserves with center Casey Fortune (6-2, 300), guards Jake Johnson (6-4, 330), Travis Ashford (6-2, 295) and tackle Chris Nelson (6-2, 267). At tight end, senior Octavius Darby (6-2, 240) and Denmark-Olar's Rolandes Breland (6-3, 240) provide blocking and pass-catching off the line of scrimmage.
Even with Terrance Smith, whose one-handed ‘Centennial Catch' in an overtime victory over Morgan State was the highlight of last season, moving over to the secondary, the Bulldogs will have no shortage of deep targets for Long and Clark. Senior Duston Dubose (5-8, 165) and Tre' Young (6-0, 180) had 25 and 16 catches, respectively, and two touchdowns each - numbers which should increase with new passing coordinator Howard Feggins in the fold.
Senior Phillip Morris (6-4, 185) is looking to rebound from a quiet 2007 campaign and has shown increased upper body strength in team practice. Junior Matt Washington (6-2, 175), D-O's Semaj Moody (5-10, 175) and freshmen Lennel Elmore (6-0, 185) of Allendale-Fairfax and Randall Hawkins (6-0, 175) round out the wide receiving corps.
The starting defensive line will be an experienced group led by All-MEAC second-team selection Cedric Lloyd (6-5, 225) and fellow ends junior Markus James (6-2, 240) and Xavier Littleberry (6-5, 260). Senior James Simmons (6-0, 255) is expected to start at tackle, with Jayson Ayers (6-3, 250), nose tackle Sterling Blunt (6-3, 250), sophomore Joe Council (6-2, 250) and freshman Ronnell Ferguson (6-3, 245) providing depth.
After being forced to red-shirt last season after suffering an arm injury against Bethune-Cookman, Marshall McFadden is back bigger (6-2, 220) and now at MIKE linebacker. The Lamar native has caught on quickly to the responsibilities of his new position and adds further athleticism and play-making ability to a group rich in those attributes.
Prior to his hand injury, senior linebacker Tony White is having in Pough's words one of the best training camps of his Bulldog career. The Seneca native has 179 tackles, 19 sacks and seven interceptions in his career and has led the Bulldogs in tackles in two of his three seasons.
Sophomore Julius Wilkerson (6-4, 225) will fill White's spot at WILL linebacker and will be backed up by David Erby (6-0, 220), who's returning from a season-ending knee injury.
Last season, Markee Hamlin (6-0, 170) led the team and his family (his brother Michael is a top senior safety at Clemson) in interceptions. The Lamar native hopes to improve on those numbers as well as provide better support for a secondary which gave up big passing plays in games against Norfolk State and Delaware State.
Phillip Adams (6-1, 185) is counting on his experience playing for the S.C. State men's basketball team with helping him become a more agile cornerback. Lining up opposite of him at corner is defensive captain Terrance Allen (5-10, 180) who was a safety last season.
At free safety is Williston-Elko's Rafael Bush (5-11, 180), who filled in admirably for McFadden after he was lost for the season. Rounding out of the secondary are safety Devonne Quattlebaum (5-9, 175), Marquais Hamlin (6-0, 185) and freshman Yari King (5-9, 170).
Junior Aaron Haire has developed into the Bulldogs' most improved players. Last season, he was second in the MEAC in punting (41.9 yards per kick) and utilized as a place-kicker in the first-ever meeting against the University of South Carolina.
If there was an area of inconsistency for the Bulldogs last season, it was in the kicking department. Despite connecting on 36-37 extra points and tying a school record with 11 field goals, Stephen Grantham missed 12 field goals, including key misses against Norfolk State and Delaware State. Looking to provide stability at that position are freshmen Blake Erickson (5-10, 165) of Pensacola, Fla. and Matthew Patterson (6-4, 230) of Class 4-A Division II champion Clover High School.
Positional Analysis: SC State
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