Aug. 6, 2008
It has been said "if it wasn't for bad luck, we would have no luck at all." That's how first-year head coach J.C. Harper had to feel, at times, during the 2007 season. A season that started with so much promise seemingly ended after a season-opener that saw SFA lose five players to injury, including four starters, the team's top three running backs and an All-America linebacker.
Before the dust had settled on the 2007 season, the Lumberjacks' depth chart, which began the season loaded with a mix of veteran experience and a solid influx of youthful talent, was completely transformed into one that was top heavy on underclassmen. Heading into the regular-season finale, 36 of the 'Jacks' 53 spots on the depth chart were filled by sophomores or younger.
But all of that does not equal the injury situation the 'Jacks faced at the running back position. SFA lost its top three running backs to injury in the season opener, and before the season was done 13 different players were utilized at running back, including Jabara Williams who started three games at both running back and linebacker during his rookie season.
The injury situation forced SFA to rely heavily on its freshman class. With a year of experience under its belt, those freshmen will be expected to carry a bigger load and help bring along the 2008 freshman class.
One of those sophomores who will be counted on to guide a new look offense for the 'Jacks is 6-0, 180-pound gunslinger Jeremy Moses. A product of Baytown Lee, Moses came out of spring ball as the leader to run the offense being installed by new coordinator Shannon Dawson.
Moses finished the spring completing 87-of-129 (67 percent) passes for 844 yards and seven touchdowns. These numbers came following a freshman campaign that saw him start five games and complete 62 percent of his passes for 1,253 yards and six touchdowns.
One of those starts saw Moses jump into the school record books. Moses completed 41-of-59 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns at Texas State. The 41 completions, and the 59 attempts both set single-game school records, and it marked only the fourth time in SFA history that a player had passed 500 yards in a game.
Moses will have a talented stable of receivers surrounding him who have the ability to get the ball up the field led by seniors Tyrell Williams and Dominique Edison and junior Aaron Rhea. Williams returns to the grid-iron stronger after redshirting the 2007 season. He brings a ton of experience to the field for an otherwise very young SFA squad. Williams enters his final season with 77 career catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns.
A 2006 honorable mention All-SLC selection in 2006, Edison led the 'Jacks with 55 catches for 582 yards last season. He was joined by another speedster who really jumped onto the scene last year in the 6-1, 204-pound, Rhea. A 2007 honorable mention all-conference selection, Rhea set career highs with 31 receptions for 496 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore.
Add to that trio speedsters such as Contrevious Parks, Marcus Taylor and transfer Duane Brooks and SFA should be able to pose some problems for opposing defenses.
The Lumberjacks ground game received plenty of help from the defensive side of the ball last year with two-way players Jabara Williams, Chris Elliot and Johnny Thacker. But with Thacker having used up all his eligibility, and Williams and Elliott back on defense, it will be up to junior college transfer Tyrone Ross and sophomore Barlow Reid to produce at running back.
Ross, 5-8, 185-pound transfer from Navarro Junior College, has the ability to put up big numbers as a ball carrier. He rushed for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior college career, becoming only the eighth running back in Navarro history to rush for 1,000 yards since 1970. He also averaged 7.0 yards per catch coming out of the backfield as a receiver, which will be a tremendous asset under first-year offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
Reid returns for his sophomore season, after a solid rookie season. A 2007 walkon who earned his way onto the field, Reid will be expected to carry more of the load in '08.
Almost lost in the shuffle, do to all the injuries, is sophomore Vincent Pervis. A 5-10, 182-pound, Texas City native, Pervis appeared to be on his way to a breakthrough season in '07. An impressive preseason had Pervis listed second on the depth chart, and well on his way to earning plenty of playing, until he was lost for the year to an injury during the first half of the 2007 season opener. Pervis has had a full year to rehab the injury, and may prove to be a wild card for Coach Harper.
Another key factor for the Lumberjacks will be how quickly the offensive line comes together under a new system. The 'Jacks lost three honorable mention all-conference athletes from last year's roster, including Brock Pasteur, who was offered a free agent contract by the NFL's Tennessee Titans following the season. Despite the losses, the 'Jacks return junior Karl Glimp and sophomore Joshua Steger and Jesse Funk who have seen significant game action during their time on campus. Glimp has been a starter each of the past two seasons. Add to that transfers Chris Garrison, Max Holmes and Cameron Schacht, and SFA should have a solid nucleus on the offensive front.
The Lumberjacks kickoff the 2008 season Saturday, Aug. 30 when they host Langston. The game against the Lions is slated to begin at 6 p.m.