Coach Joey Jones (fifth season, 28-22 at South Alabama and overall)
Returning starters: 18, 9 offense, 8 defense, 1 special teams
Recruiting rank: 96
Strength of schedule: 109
When coach Joey Jones became the inaugural coach in 2009, he saw his team win its first 19 games against schedules that included college prep academies - glorified high schools - junior colleges, NAIA schools and NCAA Division III teams. The Jags got their first full taste of FBS play last season and it wasn't pretty. USA's only victories came against FCS foe Nicholls State and conference opponent Florida Atlantic.
While a losing record is likely, the Jaguars should be improved in 2013 with 18 starters returning.
"I thought it was the best spring we’ve ever had from start to finish,” Jones said in April. “What I noticed more than anything is we have more players who can make plays. As we started subbing twos and threes into the game a lot of them were making plays whereas in the past sometimes they weren’t; we have more depth."
Senior quarterback Ross Metheny returns after throwing for 2,148 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while splitting time with CJ Bennett. Metheny is not assured of a starting job and was outplayed by Alcorn State transfer Brandon Bridge in the spring game. USA's top receiver in junior Jereme Jones, who caught 45 passes for 513 yards and seven scores, is back.
Demetre Baker, who ran for a team-best 595 yards and three scores, was dismissed from the team in the spring. Junior college transfer Jay Jones enters the fall as the No. 1 running back with Kendall Houston, who ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns, behind him. Juco transfers Cris Dinham and Desmond LaVelle and sophomore tailback Terrance Timmons (212 rushing yards) will provide depth behind Jones and Houston. The Juco running backs are part of a 2013 recruiting class that includes 11 junior transfers. Junior receiver T.J. Glover, who had 206 receiving yards on 27 receptions and ran for 210 yards last year, is also back.
Junior tackle Melvin Meggs, who was not penalized once for a false start last season and only allowed one sack, would be the best lineman but is out for the year with an injury. Sophomore Chris May is back at tackle and junior guard Shaun Artz the other returning starter. Also expected to start is senior center Matt Calcagnini while junior Drew Dearman and sophomore James Elliott will compete at guard. Junior Ucambre Williams also returns from injury.
The defense is led by two all-conference selections in senior defensive end Alex Page, who made 11.5 tackles for loss with a team-high six sacks, and senior linebacker Enrique Williams, who was second on the team with 105 tackles and had six tackles for loss. Linebacker Jake Johnson, who has graduated, was the team leader with 131 tackles, 15 for loss and three sacks.
The defense also welcomes back senior cornerback Tyrell Pearson, who led the team with four interceptions last year. Also back is junior safety Terrell Brigham, who had 71 tackles with a pair of picks in 2012. Senior safety Charles Harris, who had 81 tackles in 2011 before having his 2012 season cut short by injury, returns.
Senior cornerback Darrius Morrow should have an increased role and nickel linebackers Maleki Harris and David Hawkins could see time at safety. Senior defensive end Pat Moore is another hybrid player that returns for USA after posting nine tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. Senior linebacker Clifton Crews (49 tackles, five TFLs, two sacks, two forced fumbles) is also back.
The defensive line, led by Page, is a veteran group with seniors Montavious Williams and Romelle Jones and juniors Jesse Kelley and Will Thompson all returning. Senior Randon Carnathan is coming off an injury and is expected to contribute while junior college transfers Jerome McClain and Theo Rich will compete for starting jobs.
T.J. Glover should again be the team's primary kick and punt returner with Jereme Jones back as well on kicks. Also back on special teams is senior punter Scott Garber. Redshirt freshmen Aleem Sunanon and Logan Gunn will compete for the kicking duties and true freshman Brandon McKee could push the other two.
Fum Lost: 17
Int Lost: 16
TOs Lost: 33
Fum Gained: 10
Int Gained: 11
TOs Gained: 21
TO Margin: -12
2012 season stats listed unless otherwise noted.
WR Jereme Jones
Jr. 5-8 165
45 receptions, 513 rec yds, & 7 TDs.
WR T.J. Glover
Jr. 5-9 170
210 rush yds, 206 rec yds, 123 punt ret yds, 642 kick ret yds & 1 rush TD.
TE Wes Saxton
Jr. 6-4 240
26 receptions, 336 rec yds, 12.9 avg, & 1 TD.
DE Alex Page
Sr. 6-1 235
64 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 6 sacks, 2 PBUs, 5 QBHs,
LB Enrique Williams
Sr. 6-0 235
105 tackles, 6 TFLs, 1 PBU, 3 QBHs, 1 FR, & 2 FFs.
CB Tyrell Pearson
Sr. 5-8 150
40 tackles, 3 TFLs, 4 ints, 11 PBUs, & 1 FF.
vs UTSA L 33-31
vs Nicholls St W 9-3
at NC State L 31-7
at Miss St L 30-10
vs Troy L 31-10
at Arkansas St L36-29
vs FlaAtl W37-34 2OT
at ULM L 38-24
vs FIU L 28-20
at North Texas L24-14
vs Mid Tenn L 20-12
at Louisiana L 52-30
at Hawaii L 23-7
vs Southern Utah
vs Western Kentucky
vs Kent State
at Texas State
vs Arkansas State
at Georgia State