Guilliam said Jones, a Second Team All-NFC selection, is the complete package and capable of doing damage on the ground as well as through the air. “He’s got a great arm, and he can run,” he said of Jones, who completed 95 of 156 attempts and ran for 156 yards and two scores. The backup spot behind Jones is up for grabs heading into the Sept. 1 opener at home (Mitchel Athletic Complex) versus Atlanta Sports Academy.
Grant, who had more than 400 yards receiving and five touchdowns a year ago after earning a starting spot as a walk-on, brings a combination of speed and strength to the table. “Like Travis [Lock], Antwane is a team leader and someone we’re expecting big things from,” Guilliam said. Joining Grant on the receiver corps is Malik Belfort and Kendall Thomas.
Mavety, a 6-5, 335-pound right tackle, leads the way in the trenches. He’s one of the most heavily recruited JUCO players in the nation, Guilliam said, with more than 30 offers. Mrkulic starts at center, and McCarthy is the right guard. On the left side, Sean Brown mans the tackle spot and Jared Maldonado takes over at guard.
Lock said the defense, which held six opponents to single digits in points last season and posted two shutouts, has looked tremendous in practice despite losing some key contributors. Gone is linebacker Amara Kamara, the 2012 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the entire secondary.
The catalyst in the 4-3 system will be linebacker George Williams, who can do it all. Up front, the sky’s the limit for tackle Lance McDowell, a 6-5, 290-pound end. The Lions will also be counting on Kenard Hernandez and Raymond Williams to clog running lanes, while Poncho Barnwell leads the way at end. Bruce Parker, who had two interceptions in a limited role a year ago, has been the top defensive back in camp.
On special teams, Guilliam said the addition of kicker/punter Connor O’Sullivan provides the team with another weapon.
The Lions are ranked No. 13 in the NJCAA preseason poll.
“We have a lot we want to accomplish,” Lock said.