#31 Elon FCS Football 2012 Preview

George Hammond

Elon Phoenix

Overall Rank: #31
#5 Southern Conference
Elon FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Elon Team Page


In his first season as a head coach, Jason Swepson, a former assistant under Tom O’Brien at N.C. State, guided the Phoenix to five victories including a 41-34 victory over 17th-ranked Furman. But Elon dropped four of its final five contests, and if you want to lay blame, the Phoenix allowed more than 32 points a contest which ranked 100th nationally.  The good news is that there are seven starters returning on offense and seven on defense. Several position changes were the buzz during spring practice. Matt Eastman has lined up at fullback, H-back and tight end, but now he’s at running back. Another key change has Blake Thompson moving from safety to outside linebacker and junior Tevin James has switched from defensive line to offensive line.

2011 Record: (5-6, 3-5)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Jason Swepson (5-6 at Elon, 5-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Pincince
Defensive Coordinator: Ed Pinkham

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Thomas Wilson, QB, 36 yards
Passing: Thomas Wilson, QB, 3,057 yards
Receiving: Aaron Mellette, WR, 1,639 yards
Tackles: Blake Thompson, LB, 60 tackles
Sacks: Olufemi Lamikanra, DL, 3, Tony Thompson, DL, 3
Interceptions: Chandler Wrightenberry, DB, 2; Blake Thompson, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Matt Eastman,  WR Jeremy Peterson, WR Rasaun Rorie, OL Kyle Herbert, OL Clay Johnson, DL Jay Brown, DL Jordan Jones, LB Jonathan Spain

Key Losses: RB A.J. Harris, RB Dontay Taylor, RB Jamal Shuman, DB Jonathan Conner, LB Joshua Jones, LB Blake Thompson

Wide receiver Aaron Mellette captured All-America honors from seven organizations.  Mellette, who led the nation in receiving yards per game (149.0) and receptions per game (10.27), also finished fifth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top player at the FCS level.  Mellette’s 1,639 receiving yards set an Elon and Southern Conference record.  The good news is that quarterback Thomas Wilson returns, too. Last year, the Wilson-led passing attack was tops in the Southern Conference and ranked 14th nationally in passing yards per game (281.45 yards). Both lines – offensive and defensive – have several starters back that should help solidify those units.

With the departure of seniors A.J. Harris, Dontay Taylor and Jamal Shuman from last year’s team, Elon is devoid of experienced running backs. None on the roster has logged a carry or rushed for a yard in a college game. While the overall defensive numbers look okay, teams ran against the Phoenix. Elon yielded more than 191 yards on the ground, and it doesn’t help that leading tackler Joshua Jones is gone.

The Bottom Line:
Elon has to shore up the defense and reverse the turnover margin if it hopes to make the FCS playoffs for the second time in school history (2009 was its only appearance). It was 120th nationally in points allowed (avg.) last season. The Phoenix open at North Carolina before hosting North Carolina Central and West Virginia State in must-have games because a murderer’s row of Georgia Southern, Wofford and Appalachian State waits in the wings. Wilson and Mellette are a good place to start, but there are too many questions elsewhere.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 101.82 (97th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 281.45 (14, 1)
Total Offense: 383.27 (41, 6)
Scoring Offense: 26.45 (53, 6)
Rushing Defense: 191.36 (99, 7)
Pass Defense: 153.55 (3, 2)
Total Defense: 344.91 (38, 4)
Scoring Defense: 32.64 (100, 8)
Turnover Margin: -2.00 (120, 9)
Sacks: 1.55 (92, 7T)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (61, 7)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#27 Jacob Ingle