Adv00

Updated: August 8, 2003, 4:19 PM ET

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Southern University is eager for the season to get under way so they can begin putting last year's 6-6 mark behind them.

I'm looking forward to it," said Southern coach Pete Richardson, entering his 11th season. "So many kids have worked hard during the summer, gotten a lot bigger and stronger. We took our lumps last year, so now I'm excited to see what they can do."

While Richardson's staff has a good feel for the veterans -- with seven back on offense and six on defense -- after the team won five of its last six games in 2002, they are also excited about the newcomers.

Tarus Morgan, a junior transferring from Mississippi State, and junior-college transfer Don Expose can help shore up a linebacking corps which lost defensive captain Chris Cooper.

"I've never seen Morgan play, but what we're told is he's a great kid, a great character kid. No problems at all," defensive coordinator Cliff Lewis said. "He can really run, and if you're recruited by (State defensive coordinator) Joe Lee Dunn, you have to be able to run. That's a plus. I'm really anxious to see what he can do. Now, how soon he comes in and adapts to a different defense will be the key.

"Expose has lots of foot speed. He can do so many things that he never excelled in one position, playing defensive end, linebacker and safety. He's kind of a mystery."

Of the freshmen, kicker Breck Ackley is in the best position to immediately provide depth and competition for Colby Miller, the only scholarship kicker on the team.

Quarterback J.C. Lewis, fourth on the depth chart, is a Californian whom coaches have only seen play on film, but Lewis came to summer school and joined the voluntary conditioning program.

"He gained the confidence of our football team, as far as getting involved," Richardson said of Lewis.

Freshman wide receiver Justin Plummer and Wille Bias, signed as a defensive back but who may be used as a speed-rushing lineman, could also push for playing time this season.

Also of first-year players, freshmen offensive linemen Seth Rooks and Lanc Gerard, along with tight end Fred Perkins, a junior-college transfer, could have an impact.

Of the sophomores, wide receiver Antonio Overstreet, tight end Michael Manuel, linebacker Leo Bethelemy and defensive back Josh Babineaux are others who bring some positive buzz into camp.

"Overstreet is one I want to take a look at early," Richardson said. "He's an impact player."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index