Use them wisely: Braves look to place players based on smart decisions

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2018

It is officially less than two months until the Alcorn State University football team takes the field in Atlanta against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first week of the 2018 season.

This week, The Natchez Democrat will answer questions from Twitter and take a look at Alcorn plans to utilize some specific athletes.

Will Alcorn be running any two back sets similar to what was ran last year in the SWAC Championship game with De’Lance Turner and P.J. Simmons? If so, what backs would be used in these sets? — @icedout1906 on Twitter

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Offensive coordinator Ryan Stanchek has been adamant the Braves will continue the two-back system in 2018.

Simmons is the frontrunner with a bunch of options behind him to use as the secondary back. Although there is a plethora of talent to be used, the two backs who have the best shot of being one half of Alcorn’s running stability are redshirt freshman Marquise Forman and junior college transfer DeShawn Waller.

This spring, Stanchek raved about Forman and that the back from Cedar Hill, Texas has a chance to be special in Lorman. If Forman were to be the secondary back for the Braves, expect a speedster, as he is known as one of the fastest runners on the team.

As for Waller, there are two reasons why he could be the next back-up — his size and experience.

Waller stands at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds. That is roughly the same size as Turner, so he would fit well in the lineup. Not only that, but the Atlanta native comes to Alcorn after playing two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. There, he tallied 888 rushing yards on 177 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and six touchdowns.

Quarterback Felix Harper is relatively short and had some passes batted down in (last year’s) Jackson State game. What will be changed offensively to suit his height? — @andrevyoung on Twitter

As Brave fans may know, Alcorn recently hired former West Virginia quarterback Pat White as its new quarterback coach. With him and Stanchek, the purple and gold’s offense could look like the West Virginia system, with the pair of coaches playing together during their time as Mountaineers.

During that time, White ran a ton of run-pass option plays or he bootlegged out of the pocket so he didn’t throw directly into the opposing defensive line. Since he stands at 6-foot like Brave quarterback Noah Johnson and just taller than Harper, that’s how the signal callers should function at Alcorn this season.

Additionally, Johnson is pretty confident in his abilities.

“My height isn’t a problem,” Johnson said. “I can make all the throws on the field and make all the reads.”

Which freshman or freshmen should we keep an eye on? — @Singerboy8 on Twitter

The first player Brave fans should keep an eye on is running back Trey Turner.

The Atmore, Alabama native is an aggressive, in-between the tackles runner, which Alcorn likes to use. He stands 6-feet tall and was ranked as the No. 105 recruit in the state of Alabama by 247Sports.

During his senior year at Escambia Academy High School, Turner rushed for 675 yards and 15 touchdowns, as well as helped his team to a state championship. With the second option in the backfield still open, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Turner get some carries this season.

As for a defensive freshman to keep an eye on, Alcorn fans should get used to seeing defensive end Jaaron Jackson.

Jackson comes to Lorman

after playing at Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida. In his senior season, Jackson disrupted opposing backfields as he recorded 60 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks. The performance helped him earn several FBS offers including South Alabama, which was the school he originally committed to.

The 6-foot-3 defensive end has the opportunity to earn quality playing time, because Alcorn is trying to replenish talent at the position. So if Jackson is anything like he was in high school, he has a chance to be a contributor during his first year in Lorman.