The Clark Atlanta University football season begins just weeks from now when the Panthers and first-year head coach Tim Bowens, a former assistant at Georgia State University, begin things with a home opener under the lights at CAU Panther Stadium against Livingston College on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
That game and the remainder of the 2019 schedule will be a challenge for the Panthers who are picked to finish fifth in the six-team Eastern Division (just above Savannah State University) according to the SIAC preseason predictions. Part of the reasoning, whether it is warranted or not, may have to do with the fact that the Panthers offensive line will be one of the most inexperienced in the league.
Bowens and his staff, in particular offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Greg McLain, will have to work with what they have and that includes SIAC Preseason second team all-conference selection Paul Coleman. The 6-1, 275-pound versatile lineman had a strong freshman season and looks to add to that this campaign. At least on paper, the Panthers have one of the top 5 guards in the conference and that is a good thing. Now for the bad news.
Clark Atlanta will have three freshman and a newcomer playing major minutes this season. Junior College transfer Joseph Taylor comes home to Atlanta (he’s a Riverdale native) following a stint at Eastern Arizona Community College. Along with Taylor, the Panthers will need major minutes from freshmen Isaiah Goolsby, Johndre Wilson and Jalen Wilcox. To say the five upfront will be young is an understatement of immense order.
The Panthers quarterback rotation will have three experienced players; juniors Charles Stafford, Elijah Odom and P.J. Samford, but if there isn’t any protection that won’t matter much.
Wilcox, a Valdosta High School standout, comes to the Atlanta University Center with high marks after a stellar career in one of the state’s most highly regarded regions, Region 1-AAAAAA. Wilson, a Detroit native, is 6-2, 300 pounds and also comes to the program with high expectations.
Expectations won’t block the quarterback this season however and the Panthers are going to need outstanding play if they are going to prove the league’s coaches and preseason polls wrong.