- Abilene Christian - newcomers have some big shoes to fill, and don't have the luxury of a warm-up game
- West Texas A&M - see above
- Texas A&M-Kingsville - are the Javelinas ready to take that next step?
- Tarleton State - is this the year the Texans break through?
- Central Oklahoma - riding LSC's longestw winning streak into Pittsburg.
- Midwestern State - easiest LSC opener of any team.
- Southeastern Oklahoma - drop a couple of notches from DCTF due to QB questions
- Texas A&M-Commerce - Newcomers need to gel quickly in important LSC game.
- Angelo State - Will Rams defense continue to improve, will Neiswander returning to QB make the offense more of a threat?
- East Central - tough opener for Tim McCarty, will offense show more balance?
- Eastern New Mexico - young pups ready to prove pre-season prognosticators wrong.
- Northeastern State - Riverhawks brought in a lot of new blood on the field and sidelines.
- Southwestern Oklahoma - dropped a few spots when top RBs did not return.
No team lost more firepower than the Abilene Christian Wildcats. Players like Billy Malone, Bernard Scott and Johnny Knox don't come around often, and almost never on the field at the same time. Losing two first team All LSC South linemen doesn't help matters either. But it appears that ACU has some capable replacements. Zach Stewart and Clark Harrell at QB, Justin Johnson, Reggie Brown and Daryl Richardson at RB, while returning WR Edmund Gates, and linemen Tony Washington, Trevis and Royland Tubbs should keep ACU at or near the top of the LSC offensively. The defense should continue to improve as six players who received LSC post season honors return. Sprinkle in some talented transfers, and defense for ACU won't be an afterthought. Playoff team and favorite to win LSC.
Don't expect much sympathy from West Texas A&M. They lost QB Keith Null, WR Charly Martin, and LB Jared Brock - not only great players, but leaders on and off the field. Taylor Harris should be ready to step in at QB - he has performed well in spot duty the last three seasons. At RB Keithon Flemming suffered an injury to his elbow in a recent scrimmage, but is expected to return strong later in the season. In the meantime Kelvin Thompson will be the starter. He has logged a fair amount of playing time backing up Flemming and Wayne McKnight the past two seasons. AJ Ruffins is the leading returning receiver, but will need help. Stephen Burton and Anthony Burrell should contribute right away, and several youngsters are ready to make their mark. The offensive line should be a strength, with All American J'Marcus Webb, Brad McCarty, Jon Ioane, Daniel Sherwood and Hector Rodriguez providing solid experience. The line may be the strength of the defense as well. Another All American candidate, Broderick Marshall, and Eugene Sims anchor the line. Anthony Scott and Mark Ford return at linebacker, and Curtis Jefferson and Tae Evans are back in the secondary. Several transfers will be in the mix on defense, especially in the secondary. Playoff contender and LSC contender.
Texas A&M Kingsville didn't face the same losses as ACU and WT. They did lose their leading reciever, Jareko Taylor, and running back, Billy Martin, but return their other starters. Billy Garza is back after setting team single season records for passing yards and TDs. Ryan Lincoln, Damian Couthren and Daryl Malone are back at WR, but they will need some of the youngsters to step up. At RB, Joe Williams and Myron Brew return, and are joined by RS freshman Jonathon Woodson and transfers Connell Davis and Fred Winborn. The offensive line returns intact, and added OSU transfer Trent Perkins. On defense, seven starters return, but they must replace both defensive ends, team captain Mike Martinez at LB and All American Jabir Perkins in the secondary. Playoff contender and LSC contender.
Tarleton State will be ready to move up should any of the top three stumble. Junior Scott Grantham returns for his third season as the starting QB. In his first two seasons, he has thrown for 4,875 yards and 38 TDs. Roderick Smith returns at RB. He has rushed for 2,408 yards and 28 TDs in his career, and could become the Texans' all-time leader at the end of the season. Devin Guinn and Jahmeel Hobson are the top returning receivers. Three offensive line starters will need to be replaced, but returnee Dustin Washburn was an honorable mention LSC South honoree last season. The strength of the defense looks to be the line, with Jamaal Steamer, Alonzo Horton and Ben Taifane returning. Marcus Phillips returns at LB, and Vance Ibewuike and Brandon Johnson are back in the secondary. Playoff contender.The LSC team with the longest current winning streak? Central Oklahoma. The Bronchos started off 2008 with an 0-4 record, before turning things around. Offensively, they lose three 2nd team All LSC North performers, but return QB Brandon Noohi, WRs Ryan Gallimore, Kendall Hendricks, and Daniel Morrell and welcome back RB Ben Birmingham who missed 2008 with an injury. Jermell Cudjo and Freddie Harris are back on the defensive line, and have Terry Hardeman and Terrance Hill right behind them at LB. The secondary must replace three LSC honorees from last season. Playoff contender.
Midwestern State enters 2009 with fewer question marks than last year. Zack Eskeridge returns at QB, after closing out 2008 in strong fashion. Marcus and BeeJay Mathis (not related) return at RB, and Andy Tanner, Tyron Morrison and David Little at WR. The OL lost just one starter, with Lance Calloway and Dillon Sullivan each receiving honorable mention LSC South honors. On defense, six starters have moved on, including three on the line. Steven Turner and Kennedy Ezimako will be back, as will Emmanuel Bagley at LB, and Antoine Cumby, Micah Hill and Ryan Craven in the secondary. Playoff contender.
Southeastern Oklahoma ended 2008 as the second hottest team in the LSC North. The Savage Storm finished the year on a 5-1 tear, taking second place in the division. They will have to replace QB Brandon McCain, who threw for 2,145 yds and 22 TDs. Dallas McCutcheon and Justin Pitrucha are the top candidates to fill that spot. SOSU should be able to move the ball on the ground with returning RB Baylen Laury and newcomer Josh Johnson. When SOSU does pass the ball, Daniel Nichols and Jerrod Temple are the top returning targets and Barrett Fontenette returns to the team as well. The defense returns 5 All LSC North performers - DT Dexter Elliot, DE Alex Moore, LB Noe Lopez, LB/DB Johnny Seals and DB Bernard Daniels.
The mystery team of the LSC might well be Texas A&M Commerce. The past few seasons have seen the Lions play strong defense and inconsistent offense, bascially finishing each season within a game of .500. This year, with a new coaching staff, the offense is expected to play a much more wide open style. QB Reid Herchenbach transferred from Alabama State and is expected to start. At running back, West Virginia transfer Jetavious Best highlights a group that also includes returnee Marcus Graham. Ernest Quander and Taylor Fore return at WR, and will be joined by newcomers Alex Castillo and Jordan Wright. RJ Brisbon is the leading returner on the offensive line. The defense will return more familiar faces - Willie Green, Andre Smith, and Andrew Schwapp on the line, Chad Washington and Cory Whitfield at LB, and Alex Contreras, AJ Billings and Shea Rodriguez in the secondary. Newcomers Antony DeGrate and Jacoby Veals should be in the mix on the line, while Michael Cleveland, Israel Hughes and Chez Thomas help out in the secondary.
The Angelo State Rams took a step forward defensively last year, but a seaon ending injury to QB Josh Neiswander in the opening game set the offense back a step. End result a 3-8 season. Neiswander is back under center, but Daniel Thomas has graduated - Michael Simpers will try to fill that void. The Rams top two recievers are also gone, but transfer V'Keon Lacy, Jeremy Hill and Garrett Tidwell are ready to take their spots. Three starters also return on the offensive line. On defense, six starters return from the front seven, including NT Cody Smith and LB Edward Cantrell. Rickey McKinley is the only returnee in the secondary.
East Central brought in a new/old coach to lead them in 2009. Tim McCarty was the head coach for ECU in 2004 and 2005 and led the Tigers to their last winning season. While ECU went 3-8 last year, the cupboard isn't bare. Two-time All LSC North QB Marcus Johnson returns, as does leading rusher Josh Maldonado, WR Jerold Loveless and three starters on the line. If the line can remain healthy, it could be one of the top units in the North, allowing ECU to be more balanced on offense. The defense returns 8 starters, but they will be pushed by some newcomers, especially at linebacker and the secondary.
Eastern New Mexico went through growing pains last year, as expected. By no means are they out of the woods - the offense could have just two seniors starting. QB JJ Harp, WRs Darian Dale and Matt Handler will just be sophs, and TJ Cleavinger, Karlton Graves and Tanner Streety are just juniors. The second year of the transistion to the Air Raid offense should be much smoother. The defense will need to improve dramatically if the Hounds are to contend. Seven starters return to try and turn things around.
Northeastern State only had one victory to show for 2008, but they were oh so close in several other games. On offense All LSC North WRs Jarrett Byars and Damien Henderson are gone, but with their top two returning QBs, top RB and several transfers, things should be better. Its the same outlook for the defense. They lost Curtis Mayfield and Broderick Mondy, but with TJ Raymond, Terrence Gaston and Johnny Evans back and several newcomers added, the Riverhawks should be much improved.
Southwestern Oklahoma was 3-8 last season, losing a few heartbreakers. Steve Day returns at QB, as do two of his top receivers, Johnathan Haggerty and Joe Sawyer, along with three starters on the line. Three all LSC North perfomers won't be back - OL Jerrod Hunt, WR Kyle Wimberly and RB Luke Lundy. The Bulldogs defense should be good again, but will be hard pressed to lead the LSC in yards allowed again. Seven starters are back, including first team LSC North LB Jason Burgess and honorable mention cornerback Jeff Lemon.
LSC Player of the Year - Keithon Flemming, West Texas A&M
Offensive Player of the Year - Roderick Smith Tarleton
Defensive Player of the Year - Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, Texas A&M-Kingsville
Special Teams Player of the Year - Cody Smith, Texas A&M-Kingsville
Newcomer of the Year - Justin Johnson, Abilene Christian
QB Billy Garza TAMK
RB Baylen Laury SOSU
RB Marcus Mathis MSU
WR Edmund Gates ACU
WR Daniel Nichols SOSU
TE Joe Sawyer SWO
OL Tony Washington ACU
OL Trevis Turner ACU
OL J'Marcus Webb WTAM
OL RJ Brisbon TAMC
OL Markeith Wesley TAMK
DL Jamaal Steamer TSU
DL Aston Whiteside ACU
DL Jermelle Cudjo UCO
DL Eugene Sims WTAM
LB Fred Thomspon ACU
LB Jaron Burgess SWO
LB Nathan Uland ENMU
DB Bernard Daniel SOSU
DB Curtis Jefferson WTAM
DB Eric John TAMK
DB Tony Harp ACU
Return Specialist BeeJay Mathis MSU
Kicker James Chandler WTAM
Punter Juan Velasco TAMC