With the loss of the likes of Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Levi Brown and numerous other all-conference selections, Troy has a lot of work ahead in shooting for a third consecutive league title.
The Trojans welcome back 13 starters but must replace such luminaries as Brown, who threw for 4,254 yards in 2009, at quarterback and center Danny Franks on offense and end Brandon Lang and linebackers Boris Lee and Bear Woods on defense.
All were first-team all-conference in 2009.
End Cameron Sheffield, tackle Kevin Dixon, and strong safety Courtland Fuller were all second-team picks on defense and must be replaced.
The picture at quarterback won't become clear until the fall.
Junior Jamie Hampton and redshirt freshman Corey Robinson emerged from the spring as the frontrunners. Hampton was a starter for five games in 2008 before going out with a knee injury. He sat out last year.
Dantavious Parker, another junior, could make it a three-man race. Parker sustained a shoulder injury that cut short his spring audition, but he should be ready for fall camp.
Greg Jenkins, a transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and a fourth candidate for the job, may be headed for a redshirt season.
"They are in a battle," coach Larry Blakeney said, "and they know they are in a battle."
Though the situation at quarterback gets most of the attention, there are a number of questions on defense. The Trojans are looking to replace eight starters, four of them up front.
"There are some guys there that can play," Blakeney said of the candidates at end and tackle. "Maybe not difference makers, but solid performers.
"There are guys that will grit it out and make plays and help set it up for other guys on the defense to make plays by taking care of their responsibilities and their gap by playing hard."NOTES, QUOTES
-- Senior WR Jerrel Jernigan gives Troy not only a threat in the passing game (71 receptions for 1,101 yards and four touchdowns) but in the return game as well. Jernigan averaged 174.2 all-purpose yards per game in rushing, receiving, and returning kickoffs -- 10th best in the all-purpose total in the country.
-- Jernigan and LG Tyler Clark are returning first-team all-Sun Belt honorees. Clark also can play center, right guard, and left tackle.
DE Jonathan Massaquoi -- After spending a year in junior college as a greyshirt and then sitting out 2009, Massaquoi is looking to have a big impact in 2010 for the Trojans. He nailed down a starting spot by finishing off the spring with nine tackles, including three sacks, in the final scrimmage.
WR Josh Jarboe -- After catching 15 passes as a redshirt freshman last year, Jarboe put himself in contention for a spot in the rotation at wideout with his performance in the spring. He had three starts among his 11 appearances in 2009.
LB Johnny Thompson -- Even though others ahead of him have some starting experience, Thompson could work his way into a starting role if he can back up his spring performance with a solid fall camp. A redshirt freshman, he had 167 tackles as a senior at Valley (Ala.) High in 2008.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not a very good football team right now." -- Coach Larry Blakeney, who faces rebuilding tasks on both sides of the ball with the defending Sun Belt champions.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: The Trojans look to take a step back from last season's unbeaten conference champions, but still will be a contender for a third straight league title. The non-conference schedule features a trip to Oklahoma State in the second game of the season, and there is a date at South Carolina later. The Trojans have only five home games.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Troy will have a new starter at quarterback, but whoever emerges -- junior Jamie Hampton, redshirt freshman Corey Robinson, junior Dantavious Parker, or junior college transfer Greg Jenkins -- will have one of the league's top receiving threats to throw to in WR Jerrell Jernigan. Jernigan led the league with an average of 84.7 yards a game receiving in 2009. RBs Shawn Southward (602 yards rushing) and DuJuan Harris (583) also return.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Troy is looking to replace an outstanding front four that featured three all-Sun Belt performers in 2009. Several linemen had their moments in the spring, including DEs Jonathan Massaquoi, Brandon Boudreaux, Antonio Harper, and DT Riley Flowers. Senior LB Daniel Sheffield and sophomore CB Bryan Willis are all-star candidates. Willis led the Trojans in interceptions with four and was credited with a dozen other passes broken up, putting him in a tie for 11th for passes defended (16).
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: With both kickers returning, the Trojans are in good shape. Junior PK Michael Taylor was 11-of-14 on field goals, and junior P Will Goggans averaged 40.8 on his 56 punts. Jernigan was the primary kickoff return man, averaged 23 yards on 39 attempts, but the Trojans are looking for candidates to run back punts.
-- Junior QB Dan Parker saw his opportunity to compete for the starting job cut short when he broke a collarbone on his right (non-throwing) shoulder early in the spring practice session. He should get a good look in the fall, however.
-- Starting safeties Willard Ross (ankle) and Barry Valcin (shoulder) both had their spring sessions cut short by injuries but are expected to be ready by fall.
Previous Report: 02/05/2010