Players Troy Can’t Afford to Lose Pt 1

7 August 2009

To start off some of my preseason coverage I wanted to go over some of the players that the Troy Trojans football team simply cannot afford to lose if they want to make this season a truly special one. We’ll start this time on the offensive side of the ball. I believe that it is clear that the offensive side of the ball will be Troy’s overwhelming strength, especially if OC Neal Brown can truly learn from some of last year’s experiences and learn to more effectively utilize play calling, clock management and the run game.

The biggest question marks are on the offensive line, where Tyler Graves, James BrownNic Riley and others will need to step up to fill in for departing guards Dion Small and Chris Jamison. This leaves the only definitive senior on the line as center Danny Franks, making him a crucial part of the Trojan’s hopes this year. Experience is critical at the center position and its certainly a good thing that this two year starter and part-time hair model (joke) is around. His experience, the importance of his position, and the fact that he allowed only one sack last season makes him one of the most indispensable players on the Troy squad, being flanked by senior G Steven Adams and junior G Tyler Clark.

Next is junior WR Jerrel Jernigan, who showed flashes of incredible potential last year. Jernigan has speed, focus, and versatility. Jernigan will enable the receiving corps, now bolstered with the presences of OU transfer Josh Jarboe, to reach its maximum potential either by making the plays himself or opening up opportunities for heretofore underachieving or unexperienced players to make their own plays. Jernigan showed a connection with QB Levi Brown, his numbers seeing a noticeable spike as soon as Brown stepped in for an injured Jamie Hampton. Jernigan is a dangerous threatm with the ability to turn plays that should be minor gains in to game breaking highlight reel material. It’s this spark that, aside from his talent and relative experience, makes him another irreplaceable figure on the offense. Playmakers like Jernigan have the ability to light a fire underneath a team, not just the offense but the defense, and not just the players but also the crowd.

Finally on offense is senior QB Levi Brown. Brown proved to be a difference maker in the second part of the 2008 season. I had called for Brown to start after watching the T-Day game leading up to the 2008 season but his lack of mobility relative to Jamie Hampton proved to be his downfall. After coming though, Brown caught the attention of just about anyone who really pays attention to college football, being called the “most accurate passer” in Division 1 football by an announcer at the New Orleans Bowl Game in December.  This is no exaggeration, as Brown manages to put the ball exactly where it needs to be most of the time, even if his receivers failed to make the play. Brown sports an impressive 15/3 TD/INT ratio, a sure improvement from both Hampton and Troy legend Omar Haugabook. Aside from that, the team lacks depth behind Brown, falling back to two players who have failed to set themselves apart from eachother in Hampton and Jones. After that the depth chart looks to wheel man Dan Parker, a sophomore out of Dade County, Florida. Brown has an opportunity this year not only to secure for himself an honorable spot in the NFL Draft, but also a chance to secure himself in the annals of Troy Trojan football history, as I truly believe that this squad has a chance to finish as well as a one defeated season, or even undefeated, with Brown at the wheel. This ascent simply will not be possible with the mistake prone, if not talented players behind Brown.

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