New player, solid team strengths ASU

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2011, file photo, Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell look son before a NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Athens, Ga. Crowell faces felony weapons charges after police found a gun in his vehicle early Friday morning, June 29, 2012. Athens-Clarke Police Department spokeswoman Hilda Sorrow says Crowell was arrested at a vehicle checkpoint on the UGA campus at around 2:20 a.m. Among the charges he faces are carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon on school property. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama State Hornets didn’t upgrade their ambitions after bringing former University of Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell into the fold.They might feel even better about their chances of winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference, though. Crowell joined an already-experienced team— led by quarterback Greg Jenkins and safety Kejuan Riley — in early July after getting kicked off the Georgia team following his arrest on felony weapons charges.”Obviously the young man has been blessed with some athletic ability,” Hornets coach Reggie Barlow said. “He’s an explosive running back. He has size and power.

“Our goals and our focus, our thought process, is the same. You’ve got Greg Jenkins and Kejuan Riley and a host of other guys who are really, really good. Our goals are still the same, but it’s always a treat to have a guy like Isaiah that you can add to the program.”

He joins a team that has eight returning starters on both sides of the ball.

Jenkins returns for his second season with the team after transferring from Troy University. He passed for 1,475 yards and 11 touchdowns against five interceptions while starting eight games.

Left tackle Terren Jones is a preseason All-SWAC pick, along with defensive lineman Carlton Jones.

Riley is the team’s biggest returning star. He was a consensus All-American last season after intercepting nine passes and making 75 tackles.

The Hornets flirted with a spot in the SWAC championship game last season. They lost the East Division tiebreaker to Jackson State after Southern scored a touchdown with 9 seconds left for a 26-23 Alabama State upset in the league finale.

They haven’t won a SWAC title since 2004.

“Normally you talk about turning the page and last year was last year,” the coach said. “But I’ll be honest, the Southern game is a game that sticks in my mind because everything was right there for us, an opportunity to win that one and play for the championship. I guess we took it for granted and didn’t get it done. It stings. That is definitely something that we can learn from.”

The Hornets will make their debut in the new 26,500-seat ASU Stadium on Thanksgiving Day against Tuskegee.

“It’s a morale booster for our student-athletes, for our student body and for our alumni,” Barlow said. “We’re excited about that.”

— Associated Press