Head coach: Connell Maynor
Record at school: 6-5
Breaking it down
Stadium: Louis Crews Stadium (21,000)
All-Time record: 419-401-31
Conference affiliation: SWAC
Last conference title game appearance: 2011 lost to Grambling 16-15
Returning starters: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)
1. Second-year goals: After going 6-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play, for their best record in six years, the Bulldogs return to football ready to contend for their division title. Alabama A&M was picked to finish second to Alcorn State in the East Division, and placed five players on the pre-season all-conference team.
2. Among the best: Two players earned first-team all-conference pre-season honors, linebacker Armani Holloway and tight end Kendric Johnson. Holloway led the league with 108 tackles (9.8 per game), while Johnson had 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns to lead SWAC tight ends.
3. Experienced leaders: Quarterback Aqeel Glass led the SWAC in passing with 2,426 yards and 20 touchdowns while Brian Jenkins Jr. had 48 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns. Tackle Shonye Reams was blocking up front, and all three were named second-team all-conference.
4. Playing for pride: Second-year coach Connell Maynor said his team has some lofty goals this season, but must work hard to achieve them. "This team believes they can win a championship," Maynor said. "Some of these (players) believe they got snubbed on the preseason all-conference team, and that's not a bad thing. "They've got a chip on their shoulders. Now it's up to the players to go out and prove them wrong."
New defensive coordinator Granville Eastman is bringing a 4-2-5 scheme to the Bulldogs to take advantage of their speed and versatility while countering the speed of the offenses they will be facing. Defensive backs coach Kenyatta McCoy, also a new face this year, is also working to teach his charges the new approach. Safety Desmond Fletcher said the new duo is a good fit for the program. "We're really enjoying the new defensive coaches so far in camp," he stated. "They know the system and play calls very well and are constantly teaching us new techniques to use during the games. The balance of personalities they bring to us all works and fits perfectly."
Cheer: Alabama State. Maynor quickly found out how important the Magic City Classic was to the fan base, and didn’t disappoint in his first visit to Birmingham. Another win in the middle of a good season should set the Bulldogs up for a strong finish.
Jeer: Samford. A non-conference game against the Bulldogs in Birmingham will give Alabama A&M a good idea of how far it has come. Samford takes the place of the FBS teams A&M has played the past few years, but should still hand the visitors a loss.
7-5: With a 5-2 conference record last year, and losses only to Grambling and Alcorn State, the Bulldogs made an announcement that they were ready to win in the SWAC East Division. A win against North Alabama or Samford would show progress by the Bulldogs, but winning the East will take a big upset against Alcorn.
Did you know?
The Bulldogs will play one national television game and three ESPN3 games this season. starting with the season opener. They begin the season in the inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on the NFL Network Sept. 1, then play ESPN3 games against Samford Sept. 21 in Birmingham; the Magic City Classic Oct. 26; and against Southern in Baton Rouge Nov. 2.
"The goal is to win a championship. We believe this team has the pieces in place. But to make that happen, everyone has take care of his responsibilities. We have to approach each practice like it's the most important, and strive to do more every time we're on the field. If everyone does their job, this team is capable of winning a championship."
— Aqeel Glass
Alabama A&M 37, Miles College 0
North Alabama 25, Alabama A&M 20
Cincinnati 63, Alabama A&M 7
Southern 39, Alabama A&M 27
Alabama A&M 21, Jackson State 16
Alabama A&M 42, Texas Southern 21
Alcorn State 35, Alabama A&M 26
Alabama A&M 27, Alabama State 10
Alabama A&M 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14
Grambling 29, Alabama A&M 16
Alabama A&M 42, Mississippi Valley State 14
Sept. 1 vs. Morehouse College (Canton, Ohio)
Sept. 7 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sept. 14 at North Alabama
Sept. 21 at Samford
Sept. 28 Central State University (Mobile)
Oct. 5 Texas Southern
Oct. 12 at Grambling
Oct. 26 vs. Alabama State (Birmingham)
Nov. 2 at Southern
Nov. 9 Jackson State
Nov. 16 at Alcorn State
Nov. 23 Mississippi Valley State
— Dennis Tymkiw