- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Alabama A&M; is hoping for a solid sophomore season for both coach James Spady and many of his players.

Spady relied heavily on freshmen for his debut team that went 4-8, including leading tackler Bryan Brower and top rusher Harvey Harris. That youth movement could help this season’s team, but the Bulldogs will again start a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a college pass.

Four quarterbacks opened preseason camp contending to replace Jaymason Lee in running Spady’s pistol offense, including Southwest Mississippi Community College transfer De’Angelo Ballard.

“Like last season, our quarterback will not have played a down at the Division I level,” Spady said.

The passing game also took a hit with the departure of career receptions leader Montaurius Smith, but the running game returns largely intact.

Defensively, lineman Anthony Lanier is a preseason All-Southwestern Conference first-team pick.

Placekicker Cesar Ramon Diaz and punter Nick Carden are back, along with return men Octayvius Miles and Rashad Anderson.

Coaches and sports information directors around the league expect the Bulldogs to be improved. They picked Alabama A&M; to finish third in the East Division.

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Some story lines to watch for in Alabama A&M;’s 2015 season.

HITTING THE ROAD: Alabama A&M; will open the season Sept. 5 at the Cincinnati Bearcats then take a week off before starting SWAC play on the road against Prairie View A&M.; Four of the Bulldogs’ first five games are away from home.

QUARTERBACKS: Spady’s pistol attack helped the Bulldogs rank third in the SWAC in passing yards. Joining Ballard at quarterback are redshirt freshmen Damion May and Cody Lui-Yuen and freshman P.J. Ballard.

BACKS ARE BACK: The three top rushers return. Sophomores Harris (694 yards) and Byran Brower (466 yards) return in the backfield, along with senior Brandon Eldemire (553 yards). Harris and Eldemire both ran for six touchdowns.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS: Lanier had 18 tackles for loss last season. Linebacker Bryan Brower (83 tackles) and cornerback Dexter Reese (five interceptions) both return after big freshman seasons.

REPLACING SMITH: Smith was second in the SWAC with 1,035 receiving yards. The Bulldogs do have four players back who had at least 300 receiving yards, led by O’Darius Williams, who had 33 catches for 432 yards.

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