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Monday, May 14, 2001
Conditioning program paying big dividends

By Brad Edwards
Special to ESPN.com

SMU Mustangs
Around the WAC
Boise State Broncos
Fresno State Bulldogs
Hawaii Warriors
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Nevada Wolfpack
Rice Owls
San Jose State Spartans
SMU Mustangs
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
UTEP Miners

2000 overall record: 3-9
Conference record: 2-6 (t-6th)

Returning starters
Offense: 8
Defense: 10
Kickers: 1

2000 statistical leaders (* - returners)
Rushing: Kris Briggs* (828 yds)
Passing: Josh McCown (1,969 yds)
Receiving: John Hampton* (572 yds)
Tackles: Vic Viloria* (130)
Sacks: Markus Prett* (6)
Interceptions: Ruben Moodley* and Tommy Dorsey* (2 each)

What's new
After closing last season with an embarrassing 62-7 loss to TCU, the returning team leaders vowed to be much better in 2001. The players started working toward that goal in January, and defensive line coach Oscar Giles and offensive line coach Danny Baker revamped the strength and conditioning program. The new commitment was already noticeable in the spring through the size and strength of several players.
Battling it out
There is a two-man race at quarterback after Josh McCown decided to transfer. David Page is a good decision-maker who started three games last year. He is battling Kelan Luker, who played as a backup in '99 as a true freshman and has the stronger arm of the two. Although Luker redshirted last year, he probably leads entering the fall.
Eye catcher: MLB D.D. Lee
Lee redshirted as a freshman last year because he was coming off knee surgery at the end of his senior year in high school. He didn't even practice last season, and the coaches weren't sure what to expect from him this spring. He showed good speed and a nose for the ball and turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Lee has a chance to start despite the return of six players who started at least one game at linebacker last year.
Budding star: OLB Jarrian James
Originally recruited as a defensive back, he played linebacker as a true freshman and started the final four games. James finished with 45 tackles -- six for loss -- and an interception. He has great speed to chase plays down, which he continued to show in the spring. He is a young talent who looks to have a promising future.

Brad Edwards researches college football for ESPN and is a contributor to ESPN.com throughout the year.