Every summer we pour one out in memory of THE game of our childhoods, the one we looked forward to each July. As we all know, that game was taken from us far too soon and, in it’s wake, we entertain ourselves with what could have been. If you’re wondering how your favorite Sun Belt team would look in NCAA 19, then you’re in the right place.
You’ll find that the conference is stacked heavily on offense, as per usual in the Fun Belt. Arkansas State and Troy lead the way while the Louisiana schools lurk just behind.
Quarterback Justice Hansen (88) leads a deadly Red Wolves offense that will cause some damage throughout the Sun Belt in 2018. Chris Murray and Blake Mack will be missed but Justin McInnis (85) and Omar Bayless (80) will alleviate the losses. Add in the return of Warren Wand (82) and Arkansas State has another conference championship caliber offense on its hands.
On defense, the Red Wolves won’t be quite as disruptive up front as they were in 2017. Lineman Ronheem Bingham (82) and Christian Howard (80) will be a big part of Arkansas State’s run defense next season, as well as rising sophomore Hunter Moreton (77).
The Mountaineers are losing a LOT of production on both sides of the ball from last year. On offense, only Jalin Moore (87) is keeping the team’s offensive ratings up. Scott Satterfield has seemingly chosen a quarterback in Zac Thomas (71) and he’ll have rising sophomores Thomas Hennigan (82) and Jalen Virgil (76) to throw to.
Defensively, the Mountaineers are having to plug several holes. Clifton Duck’s (88) spot at corner is not one of them, though. App State is losing over 40 tackles for loss from last year and will have to rely on Okon Godwin (79) to be a disruptive force.
Of all things returning, head coach Joe Moglia’s return to the helm may be the most important. Quarterback Tyler Keane is gone but Kilton Anderson (76) is back and has nearly 130 pass completions in his career. Running backs Marcus Outlow (78) and Alex James (78) will carry the load on the ground while Malcolm Williams (86) returns as one of the Sun Belt’s top targets.
Fitz Wattley (85) is back in the defensive backfield and the young but talented Silas Kelly (79) will be a key cog in the linebacker group. Up front, Myles White (80) looks to improve from a solid sophomore campaign.
There’s plenty of potential in the Boro, now its about finding and reaching that ceiling. Shai Werts (75) showed promise in his freshman campaign and he’s got a more than capable back behind him in Wesley Fields (82).
RJ Murray (84) is back in the secondary, as is Joshua Moon (83). Tomarcio Reese (83) will be heavily leaned on at linebacker to anchor what the Eagles hope to be an improved run defense.
It’s a good thing the Panthers still have receivers Penny Hart (90) and Tamir Jones (80) or otherwise this offense would be seriously lacking in the proven playmaker department. Gone is quarterback Conner Manning and running backs Glenn Smith and Kyler Neal. Stepping in is the high-potential JUCO quarterback transfer Dan Ellington (77) if he continues to hold off the competition in August.
Georgia State is quietly building a monster up front and the Sun Belt will soon be put on notice. Rising sophomores Dontae Wilson (80) and Victor Heyward (81) are future stars. In the secondary, Shawn Elliot must find replacements for what was a very strong unit the past couple of years. DeAndre Applin (82) will need to step up while Remy Lazarus (75) could see a role improvement.
Following the departure of Jordan Davis, Billy Napier’s quarterback-of-the-future Levi Lewis (77) figures to lead the Cajuns into 2018. He’ll have one of the conference’s top young backs in Trey Ragas (80) to hand off to. The Cajuns have a deep receiving corps as well, led by Ryheem Malone (84).
An explosive offense won’t mean much if the defense doesn’t find a way to improve. Luckily, defensive lineman Joe Dillon (86) and his 19.5 career TFL return because the rest of the D-line is on the thin side this season.
Quarterback Caleb Evans (89) leads what could be the Sun Belt’s premier offense in 2018. Wide receivers Marcus Green (88) and RJ Turner (83) are going to be a handful on the edge while running backs Derrick Gore (80) and Ben Luckett (79) should compliment Evans well.
All of the Warhawks problems can be found on the defensive side of the ball. There is a fair amount of experience returning, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its good experience. Senior linebacker David Griffith (83) will be relied on heavily to anchor a defense that must see improvement if ULM is to challenge for the West division title.
New coach, new offense and possibly a new quarterback. The Jaguars haven’t found a starter yet but are down to Cole Garvin (75) and Cephus Johnson (75) after the departure of Dallas Davis. Running back Tra Minter (77) will step in as the top back while last year’s breakout receivers Jamarius Way (81) and Sam Harris (80) also return.
The Jags have to fill a lot of shoes on defense this season but do return the services of Tyree Turner (79) in the middle of the defensive line. There is depth in the defensive backfield despite losing Jeremy Reaves, but South will need players like Nigel Lawrence (80) to step up if the unit is to be effective.
Somehow, the Bobcats find themselves a very young team yet again. They will be a little more experienced this year and have an exciting quarterback in Willie Jones III (78) to play behind. Texas State has a deep stable of tailbacks led by Anthony Taylor (80) and an experienced receiver in Tyler Watts (82).
Linebacker Byran London II (89) has over 230 career tackles and he’s just a junior this year. He leads an experienced front seven that will have to put the pressure on for a feeble secondary in 2018.
Corners Blace Brown (89) and Marcus Jones (82) lead a vaunted secondary that has the pleasure of playing behind a stacked front seven that includes defensive tackle Trevon Sanders (88) and linebacker Hunter Reese (86).
The offense may have its work cut out as the battle between quarterbacks Kaleb Barker (76) and Sawyer Smith (75) has still not been decided. The Trojans have the pieces up front with center Deontae Crumitie (90) and have playmakers on the edge, including the Louisville transfer Traveon Samuel (83).