Last season: 1-10, 0-8 in MEAC
Two you know: Receiver Simon Heyward (Beach) was Savannah State’s top offensive weapon in 2012, with 44 catches for 751 yards and six TDs, and was selected preseason first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this summer. He should flourish in new coach Earnest Wilson’s pass-heavy offense. Last year, Wilson was the offensive coordinator at Hampton, which averaged 317 yards and 21.7 points per game in 2012. Cornerback John Wilson (Clarke Central), who had 68 tackles, four interceptions and broke up seven passes as a sophomore, is one of nine returning starters on defense. Wilson was selected preseason second-team all-MEAC.
Two you’ll hear about: DL Sebastian Pittman (6-foot-4, 330 pounds) transferred from the College of DuPage and could make an immediate impact. He had 45 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last season. Look for an expanded role for WR Brian Lackey (East Paulding), who was injured last season, but could use his height (6-4) to excel in this offense.
Two for the future: Speedy freshman De’Quan Daniels (Statesboro) could vie for playing time this season, but might need to add weight to his 5-9 frame. He rushed for 1,700 yards and 21 TDs his senior season at Statesboro. LB Jerry Clark (6-3, 235) had 22 sacks the past two seasons for Brunswick.
They’ll have a winning season if: They quickly embrace Earnest Wilson’s system and he can turn around a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1998 and is 3-30 the past three years. He is the Tigers’ 12th coach in 20 years. With 10 returning starters on offense and nine on defense, Savannah State has experience and some talent.
They’ll come up short if: They can’t forget the past and change their losing tradition. Wilson must develop depth. The Tigers lost only three starters from the 2012 team, but must replace 27 letter-winners.
Chatter: Wilson, 48, said he had applied for the Savannah State job five times in his career before being hired in June. … No coach has been at Savannah State longer than three years since 1992. … Junior QB Antonio Bostick threw for 1,629 yards and eight TDs in his first season as starter. He also rushed for 345 yards and five TDs. … WR Dylan Cook (Hiram) caught 37 passes for 491 yards and a score. … LB Wayne Burden had 75 tackles and two sacks in 2012. … The Tigers averaged 13.4 points and 251 yards last season. … New associate head coach/offensive line coach Willard Scissum played for Bear Bryant at Alabama and was the coach at Morehouse from 2002-05.
Must-see games: Savannah State hasn’t played Georgia Southern since 2010, but will open this season in Statesboro on Aug. 31. The Tigers also will make their first trip to play Miami on Sept. 21.
Best Twitter handle: @savstatetigers