Tuskegee predicted to repeat 2017 SIAC championship campaign

On Tuesday, the 10 member schools of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference descended among the College Football Hall of Fame for a second consecutive year to talk about the ways that their teams can ascend to the next level.

The SIAC’s  Western Division is particularly tough because the defending champion reigns amongst their side. The Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University have been picked to repeat as winners of the division followed by Miles College, Kentucky State, Central State, and Lane College.  

Overall, the SIAC West should be competitive this season and will be fun to watch. Here are a few highlights from SIAC West teams:

Lane College
Lane seeks to improve on its 1-7 conference record from a year ago.

According to two of their top players from last season wide receiver Omauri Hampton and offensive lineman Cameron Brown, the Dragons could care less about the projections and want to show opponents that they are not to be taken lightly.

Both athletes return with a renewed confidence and said that leadership will be their biggest strength this season.

Lane opens its season on Sept. 1 against Lincoln University of Missouri in Memphis.

Central State University
Central State finished 0-8 in the conference last season but will be depending on some young shoes for improvement.  

Linebacker Kailen Abrams is taking the challenge head on and says that their preparation will take them to greater heights this season and for him personally his upbringing in the tough streets of Detroit has prepared him for being the “underdog” and coming through it for the better.  

Head coach Cedric Pearl addressed the fourth-place projection for the Marauders.  

“I’m actually surprised we weren’t picked last because of last season,” Pearl said. He also said they have a young group that is hungry and ready.

The Marauders will face off against Elizabeth City State University on Sept. 1.

Kentucky State University
Veteran head coach John L. Smith is leading the attack for Kentucky State and will be leaning on a strong senior class to improve on their third-place finish from a year ago.

One of those seniors includes offensive lineman Marcus Campbell Jr., who was “oozing” with intensity during the presser.  Campbell says that he and his position group are ready to do what is needed to lead the team.

“The Offensive Line are all seniors and we’ll do what’s needed whatever that is,” Campbell said.  

Smith also said that senior safety Matthew Bizimana have been charged with anchoring the Thorobreds’ Defense while the coaching staff on that side of the ball is still being assembled.

The Thorobreds will face off against Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 1.

Miles College
Miles College finished 6-2 in the conference, good enough for second place in the division. Head coach Reginald Ruffin gives his team credit for “keeping it together” despite some incredible losses last season.  

Ruffin lost his wife in early 2017 along with a position coach losing their three-year-old son but somehow with incredibly heavy hearts the team rallied for a very good season.

Miles absolutely has talent going into this season.  On offense the Golden Bears are led by “Preseason Offensive Player of the Year” candidate, running back Justin Hardy, who looks ready to “carry the load” this season.  Ruffin says they will be balanced on offense and takes what the defense gives them.

The Golden Bears will kick off their season on Sept. 1 against in-state rival Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama.

Tuskegee University
Finally, the defending champion Tuskegee Golden Tigers, who finished 6-1 in the conference, 9-2 overall, have been picked to repeat as Western Division champions. Yet, head coach Willie Slater says it means “absolutely nothing, we still have to play football.”  

The Golden Tigers are led by “Preseason Player of the Year” candidate linebacker Davoris Thomas and quarterback Jamarcus Ezell.  

Despite an outstanding 2017 campaign in which they defeated Fort Valley State University in the SIAC Championship game, the team knows they should have been in the Division II Playoffs last season.

The Golden Tigers will start the season against SWAC foe Alabama State University.

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