Alcorn State ranked 21st in preseason poll

SOURCE: ASU Athletics
SOURCE: ASU Athletics(ASU Athletics)
Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 3:55 PM CDT
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LORMAN, Miss. - The Alcorn State University football program received love from the voters at HERO Sports as it landed at number 21 in the preseason edition of the website’s Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Braves are in the same position it was two seasons ago before the start of the 2019 fall campaign, ranking 21st in the HERO Sports Preseason Poll prior to that year as well. Coach McNair’s squad is the only SWAC representative to crack the initial rankings with Alabama A&M and newcomer Florida A&M each in the receiving votes category.

The ranking was formed by combining the point totals of writers Sam Herder and Daniel Steenkamer’s Top 25 Polls.

Head Coach Fred McNair and the football program will be looking to extend its streak of division titles to seven seasons in-a-row with a twist; they will now be attempting to capture its first ever SWAC West Division Championship after ruling the East for so many years. With the incoming additions of Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M to the conference, Alcorn was bumped over to the West to battle for league supremacy with the likes of Southern, Grambling State, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern and reigning champ Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

2019 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Felix Harper spearheads the offense with his favorite target in LeCharles Pringle, who set the single season program record for most touchdown catches with 14 that year. Lining up behind Harper will be breakout candidate and HERO Sports Freshman All-American Niko Duffey who took over the starting role midway through the year and led the team with 838 yards plus six touchdowns on the ground.

The defense will feature one of the most fearsome secondaries in the FCS with a trio of upperclassmen; Taurence Wilson, Juwan Taylor and Keyron KinslerJr.; keeping passing attacks in check. The Braves led the nation in interceptions (23) with those three accounting for eight picks between them. Wilson is the leading takeaway artist returning to “The Reservation” as he had four interceptions, one fumble recovery and a forced fumble in 2019. Taylor led the team in tackles (89) and was named the SWAC Championship Game Defensive MVP for his performance versus Southern. Daimen Anderson will be the veteran of the linebacking core after compiling 57 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss while Chris Monroe anchors the defensive line.

The special teams unit will have a bunch of new faces as the program’s all-time field goal leader and punter Corey McCullough graduated along with his batterymate long snapper Colten Menges. McCullough handled the placekicking and punting duties for three seasons in Lorman, making a record 45 field goals and racking up the third-most punting yards at 7,483. Menges was a 2020 Preseason First Team All-American and was invited to participate in the inaugural HBCU Combine earlier this year.

Alcorn opens the 2021 season in Atlanta, GA on August 24 at CenterParc Stadium - formerly Turner Field - against North Carolina Central in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on ESPN. Kickoff set for 6 p.m. CT.

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