The Savannah State football team returns 15 starters for the 2010 season but will also rely on youth. Three freshmen could be in the starting lineup when the Tigers open the season at Georgia Southern on September 4 and ten more are listed as top reserves.
Despite giving up 25 sacks in 2009, the strength of the offense will lie with the return of four starters to the offensive line. Lenworth McKenzie, Dan Johnson, Jared Brunson and Demetrius Edwards are set to return and will be joined by sophomore Jonathan Clowers (6-6, 290) who will line up at left tackle. AJ DeFilippis played in seven games and passed for 425 yards and three touchdowns a year ago and will line up at quarterback.
After running for 804 years last season Justin Babb will be on the hunt to reach the 1,000 mark but he is being pushed by freshman Sheldon Barnes (5-11, 215). Alakan Thomas is one of the few wide receivers with experience but newcomers Brian Lackey (6-4, 195), Josh Coleman (5-9, 170) and Dylan Cook (6-2, 185) have been impressive in the preseason.
LaDarien Redfield and Channing Welch returns to anchor the interior defensive line. junior college transfer Reginald Givens and sophomore Xavier Lewis (6-3, 265) will hold down the defensive end positions.
The linebackers appear solid with the return of Sadrak Jean-Baptiste (50 tackles), Nate Clay and J. Vince Cochran (51 tackles). Freshman Leland Russell (5- 10, 231) is also pushing for playing time. Darren Hunter and Chris Asbury (54 tackles) have locked down the safety spots while Justin Cooper (6- 2, 175) and junior Matthew Smith have earned the starting nods on the corners.
Derek Williams returns for his junior year and will once again handle the punting and kicking chores. The Toronto, Canada native has not missed an extra point since September 2008. Local products Simon Heyward (Beach High) and Antonio Proctor (Memorial Day) will handle the punt returns and kick returns respectively. Taylor Thompson (Memorial) will be the long snapper and backup quarterback Antonio Bostic will be the holder.
SSU will have a challenging schedule with nine consecutive games on the road. Old rivals Fort Valley State and Albany State are on the schedule as well and upstart Georgia State.
The Tigers will play FVSU in Macon’s Music City Classic and will face Albany State in Waycross as part of the Rumble in the Swamp Classic.
Welch, Edwards, Babb and Redfield have been selected as team captains for the 2010 season.