NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Although most people would consider the end of April baseball season, a lot of attention will be centered around the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team Saturday afternoon. The 'Jacks will take to the field for the annual spring game which is slated to begin at 5 p.m. from Homer Bryce Stadium. It was originally planned to be the team's second scrimmage of spring camp, but Saturday will be fans first opportunity to see the 2011 Lumberjacks.
The offense returns nearly intact from the 2010 season, minus All-American quarterback Jeremy Moses, but the Lumberjacks have several talented signal callers in reserve waiting for their chance to shine, in addition to a few highly touted prospects signed in February.
"The battle for the quarterback position is heated and going well," said head coach J.C. Harper. "But the one thing fans shouldn't forget is the fact that we return all of our receivers from last year. Whoever the starter is, he will have the same type of weapons at his disposal just like Jeremy (Moses) had.
"When you talk about talents like Cordell Roberson, Gralyn Crawford, Anthony Foster and Kris Lott, these are All-America caliber receivers. They will cause problems for opposing defenses. Each one brings a different skill set to our offense, and they all have the ability to stretch the defense."
Attrition took a heavy toll of the league's top-ranked defense, and the Lumberjacks will have several key holes to fill if they hope to remain the league's top-ranked defense. The 'Jacks will have to replace All-Americans Jabara Williams and Kenneth Charles, in addition to all-conference standouts Sean Warren, Andre Banks and Rainey Sternes.
But just because the defense took a hit at every position, that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare. Senior linebackers Devin Ducote and Derrick Choice return in the middle of the Lumberjack defense, and have been two of the league's top defenders over the course of the past two seasons. SFA will also have one the conference's top secondaries with the return of senior Ben Wells, junior Josh Aubrey and sophomore Caleb Nelson. The wild card in the secondary will be Jordan Aubrey who earned a starting role heading into the 2010 season before an injury cut his year short. If Jordan comes back 100 percent, SFA will be even stronger on the defensive side of the ball.
"Obviously, we lost some leadership on the defensive side," said Harper. "It's hard to replace guys like Jabara Williams, Kenneth Charles and guys like that because they bring a lot to the field, but I've been real impressed with some of our younger guys.
"I think Ryan Epperson has worked really hard during the spring. He just has a desire to be good and get the job done. We also have two very talented corners, and we had a ton of impact freshman on the defensive line last year. I'm excited about the direction of our defense, and how hard they are working."