South Alabama’s spring game left us wanting more, so we met with Creg Stephenson, a South Alabama Jaguars expert, to talk about everything from QB starter Sophomore Cephus Johnson to the offensive line and stand out players. Check out some of Stephenson’s work at AL.com, listen as he co-hosts Sports Drive on WNSP Sports Radio 105.5FM, and follow him on Twitter at @CregStephenson.
Want to see how South Alabama players stack up against other teams? Visit our college fantasy football rankings page for trends, top quarterbacks, and more.
Overall, how do you believe the South Alabama offense will compare to the 2018 version?
They should be better on the offensive line and thus better able to run the ball. There are some talented playmakers at receiver as well. However, it will depend on how well the quarterback performs. That’s a major wild-card.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
Sophomore Cephus Johnson will be the starter going into the season, and I expect him to be much-improved. He’s a good runner with a good arm, but remains very raw. Redshirt freshman Desmond Trotter should play some. He’s smart and capable, but doesn’t have Johnson’s arm strength. JuCo transfer Tylan Morton came in with a chance to win the job in the spring, but didn’t perform well. Not sure what his future is with this program.
How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?
Minter is the No. 1 guy and should get most of the carries. He’s also a weapon as a receiver on screen passes and in the return game. Terrion Avery, a walk-on junior-college transfer, impressed in the spring, so he’s probably No. 2. After that, it’s a group of redshirt freshmen, the best of which is probably Jared Wilson. Carlos Davis, Tank Miller and Tony Brown should also get some playing time. Jalin Buie has lost most of the last two years to injury, so I don’t expect him to be a factor.
How does the offensive line compare to the 2018 group?
They will be better, though it will be a lot of the same guys (the main exception being former right tackle Ryan Alexander, who went to Syracuse as a graduate transfer). Steve Campbell is an offensive line guru from way back, so it’s only a matter of time before he gets them playing well as a unit. Troy Thingstad is now at right tackle after playing on the left side last year. Right guard Roy Albritton and center Brian Ankerson seem to be secure as starters. Junior-college transfer Jacob Shoemaker appears to have won the left tackle job and might be the best lineman on the team by the end of the season. Left guard remains a competition between Max Charite and Hadon Merchant, who started last year. Conner Estes, a highly regarded transfer who once played at Louisiana Tech, is probably the heir apparent at right tackle after Thingstad graduates (Estes has three years of eligibility remaining).
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?
Kawaan Baker will get the ball a lot out of the slot and on speed sweeps and options in the running game. Jalen Tolbert is dependable and probably the No. 2 guy. Davyn Flenord — the son of former NBA player Gerald Wallace — is a great athlete, but lacks polish. Malik Stanley got a redshirt after missing half the season last year due to a suspension, but has shown he can make plays when he’s out there. Tight ends might be more involved in the passing game than they have been of late. Khameron Taylor is the best receiver/downfield runner of the group, though Zac Crosby is solid. Nick Thompson is primarily a blocker.
For our dynasty owners, who are some young players that stand out as future breakout performers?
Flenord, who has the athleticism and explosiveness you might expect of the son of an NBA player, is the guy to watch if he can continue to improve his grasp of the offense. I think Avery or one of the young running backs could have some future value, though I expect Minter to get the bulk of touches this year. Tolbert could be a sleeper. The coaches love his route-running and intelligence, and he’ll get plenty of opportunities this year with Jamarius Way and Jordan McCray no longer around.