Tom Chavous was named St. Augustine’s head coach during the offseason after he coached the final eight games of the 2015 season. He now has the opportunity to bring in new talent on the field and in his coaching staff.
New assistant coach Alvin Parker and new quarterbacks coach Jason Mai were hired from CIAA rivals Elizabeth City State and Winston-Salem State, respectively.
Additionally, Chavous said he recruited more than 30 college transfers to add depth — and, in some cases, elite talent — to his roster.
The parade of new acquisitions joins 14 returning starters on a St. Augustine’s squad that went 1-9 last year, beating only rival Shaw.
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“(I’m) bringing in experienced players that focus on academics first. If I can get guys that focus on the main thing while they’re here, football is going to be pretty much easy for them, the playbook is going to be a little easy for them,” Chavous said. “I just want to change the attitude and bring a winning tradition here ... that they’ve never had.”
Here are four things to know about St. Augustine’s:
1. Transfers adding depth, skill
Throughout the projected St. Augustine’s depth chart, new players from other colleges have found roles on the team.
Four transfers from Stillman College in Alabama, including projected starting receivers Lenwood Joyner (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) and Dre Williams (5-9, 160) and projected starting running back Revonte Johnson (5-6, 165) — all sophomores — have been added to the roster.
Other notable additions include junior offensive lineman Zack Jenkins (6-7, 310), a Georgia Military College transfer who Chavous said will start on the offensive line.
“We’ve definitely got some guys recruited in this year that are going to be able to compete at a higher level than last year,” Chavous said.
2. Consistency at quarterback position
Last year, the Falcons used four different quarterbacks at various times and ultimately ranked 158th among 168 Division II teams in passing yards per game.
The most consistent of the four, sophomore D.J. Johnson (5-11, 190) completed 61.5 percent of his attempts as a freshman, a sharp contrast to the rest of the team’s 42.6 percent completion rate. This season, D.J. Johnson is the outright starter after using the off season to gain leadership experience.
“He’s definitely going to be a big key to our offense,” Chavous said. “Last year, he had those freshman jitters, but now he’s got that playing experience ... He’s got all 100 guys rallying around him right now.”
3. Dominant lines
Chavous said NFL scouts have been “knocking (his) door down” about offensive linemen Donald Brinkley (6-6, 310 pounds) and Jaron Rice (6-5, 345 pounds).
The pair of opposing tackles helped former running back Roderick Davenport II break the school record with 2,809 career rushing yards. This fall, they’ll be tasked with opening holes for speedy newcomer Revonte Johnson, who runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash.
On the defensive line, last year’s team leader in tackles for loss, Darius Goodman, and second-ranked player in total tackles, Chasz Cosby, both have two years of eligibility left and will be the main stalwarts of a young defense.
4. Survive road tests
Six of the Falcons’ 10 games this season will be on the road, including visits to FCS foes N.C. A&T and N.C. Central and a stretch of three straight away contests in October.
With a record of 3-15 in their last 18 road games, Chavous knows that more success outside of Raleigh will prove crucial to accomplishing his goal of a long-awaited winning season.
Sept. 3 at N.C. A&T
Sept. 10 Carson-Newman
Sept. 17 at N.C. Central
Sept. 24 Lincoln
Oct. 1 at Virginia Union
Oct. 8 at Livingstone
Oct. 15 at Winston-Salem State
Oct. 22 Fayetteville State
Oct. 29 at Johnson C. Smith
Nov. 5 Shaw
Previewing the season
College football is here. From now until Aug. 31, we’ll have previews both online and in print. Here’s the schedule:
Aug. 25: Shaw
Aug. 26: St. Augustine’s
Aug. 27: Campbell
Aug: 28: The ACC and East Carolina
Aug. 29: Duke and N.C. Central
Aug. 30: North Carolina
Aug. 31: N.C. State