Color scheme (Best uniforms)
Many of the SoCon’s teams have either new uniforms or at least new helmets, including UTC. Samford’s red, white and navy uniforms are always among the best in the league, but The Citadel is at the top of the list this season. The all-white uniforms with the light (Carolina?) blue numbers are tremendous, and the special-occasion throwback light blue top with the “C’ in the middle — that’s close to perfection.
Seeing green (Best NFL prospects in the SoCon)
Among the seniors, Mocs defensive tackle Derrick Lott has to be one. He was solid last season, his first real season of college football, and much is expected of him this fall. Furman offensive tackle Dakota Dozier is another highly rated senior — Phil Steele’s College Football Preview rated him the top tackle in the FCS. Two juniors who will draw increased interest are Mocs defensive end Davis Tull and Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt — the coaches’ preseason picks for co-defensive player of the year.
Kick the can (Best special teams unit)
Furman’s Ray Early has the top leg in the league. The senior handles punting and kicking duties for the Paladins and was the coaches’ preseason first-team pick for both. In 2012, Early was third in the league with a 42.1-yard punting average and he was 10-for-16 on field goals, with a long of 52 yards.
Neon lights (Biggest game of the year)
Can you count the final Georgia Southern-App State matchup as members of the SoCon? Neither is eligible for the league title, so probably not. Two teams that are eligible and have played down-to-the-wire games in their last two meetings are UTC and Wofford. The Terriers won in the final minute two years ago and in overtime last season. The teams are considered the favorites to win the title this season, so Wofford’s Nov. 9 visit to Finley Stadium could be for the championship.
Preseason all-SoCon team
QB Jamal Londry-Jackson, Sr., Appalachian State
RB Dominique Swope, Jr., Georgia Southern
RB Darien Robinson, Sr., The Citadel
OL Kendall Lamm, Jr., Appalachian State
OL Dakota Dozier, Sr., Furman
OL Dorian Byrd, Sr., Georgia Southern
OL Ty Gregory, Sr., Wofford
OL Jared Singleton, Sr., Wofford
TE Faysal Shafaat, Jr., UTC
WR Sean Price, So., Appalachian State
WR Kelsey Pope, Sr., Samford
PK Ray Early, Sr., Furman
DL Ronald Blair, Jr., Appalachian State
DL Derek Douglas, Sr., The Citadel
DL Derrick Lott, Sr., UTC
DL Davis Tull, Jr., UTC
LB Jonathan Spain, Jr., Elon
LB Wes Dothard, Sr., UTC
LB Alvin Scioneaux, Sr., Wofford
DB Lavelle Westbrooks, Sr., Georgia Southern
DB Jaquiski Tartt, Jr., Samford
DB D.J. Key, Sr., UTC
DB Kadeem Wise, Sr., UTC
P Ray Early, Sr., Furman
RS Tony Washington, Sr., Appalachian State
Predicted order of finish
• 1. UTC
• 2. Wofford
• 3. Samford
• 4. The Citadel
• 5. Furman
• 6. Elon
• 7. Western Carolina
*Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are ineligible for the league title because they’re transitioning to the FBS and will play with more than the FCS limit of 63 scholarships.
(Someone picked outside the top four who has a chance to win the league if things go right)
Nobody expected much from The Citadel last season and the Bulldogs beat Georgia Southern and App State in consecutive weeks — a SoCon first — before finishing 7-4, 5-3 in the league. In the preseason predictions, which included ineligible GSU and App State, neither the coaches nor the media had the Bulldogs in the top four. If the Bulldogs’ triple-option continues to improve, The Citadel could easily be playing some big games in November.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...