From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)- Saturday night, the final snaps of the spring season came to a close with the conclusion of the 2016 Spring Game at Homer Bryce Stadium. It was a spring season filled with highs and lows on both sides of the ball, implementing a new offensive scheme while also watching a number of young players state their case for playing time this fall.
As the hot summer months appraoch, the attention now turns to summer workouts and conditioning as the countdown to kickoff against the Red Raiders in Lubbock on September 3rd officially begins. With the spring season in the books, SFAJacks.com sat down with head coach Clint Conque to get his thoughts on the state of the Lumberjack football team.
Spring Football Thoughts
"I'm pleased with everything we got this done during this spring season. We got in all 15 practices with three major scrimmages. It was a little bit of a disjointed schedule with spring break, Easter break and a weather day in there, but I thought our players responded and adjusted very well and we were able to get all our work in. We made it out relatively healthy. There were a few bumps and bruises but there was nothing that looks like it will seriously affect our summer training in July."
"I was really impressed with our 2015 signing class. Obviously Loren Easly, Lawrence Ghansahand Trevon Smith impacted our team on the field last year significantly, but when you look at the list of redshirt freshmen – Spencer Choka, Kiki Hill, Gary Sampson, Anthony Jacobs, Teddy Britton, Alize Ward, A.J. Brown, Paul Hill, Travis Lock, Jonathan Sam, Jake Blumrick, Jack Martin– they all took great strides forwards and really flashed during the 15-practice spring as well as the offseason. They've truly positioned themselves for significant roles."
"I thought Zach (Conque) had his most productive spring. He's coming back from an injury-plagued season in 2015 and I was pleased with the improvements he's made under coachGary Crowton. He's throwing the deep ball with great accuracy and there were a number of significant, big plays and we feel like his experience and health will go a long way this fall. The depth is great at the position, beginning with fifth-year player Hunter Taylor who was very productive. He gives us a quality option and there are some aspects of the offense we're implementing that are a little better suited for him so that has helped him and I thought he had a very good spring."
"The biggest thing for me was the emergence of Kiki Hill. He has big hands and attacks the ball. We got to see him make spectacular plays all last year on the scout team but he leaves the spring with a load of confidence and can really be special these next for years. Permanently we've moved Justice Liggins outside and we really saw the effects of that in the spring game. He's an ultra competitive young man with size, experience and speed and I like the way he attacks the ball. Robert Sylvester had a huge spring – accounting for six touchdowns in the major scrimmages with three called back. He's playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of speed and gives us a great option. Aaron Piper, our leading returning receiver, split time between us and track but really didn't miss a beat, so I was very happy with him. De'Quann Ruffin and Judah Jones will factor into the offense with proven talent there, and I really feel we've got a lot of options and a lot of playmakers at that position."
"Joshawa West had by far his best spring. He's healthy, he showed his big play ability in the scrimmages and will be a guy we look to a lot this fall. Loren Easly, we saw his abilities last year to break a game open and we expect more of the same and Kijana Amous brings a physical presence we got to see for the first time. He brings a different type of attitude with the ball in his hands, and that's exciting. He really saw his first live action in the spring game coming off foot surgery and we are excited for what he will add to the position. We've also got two freshmen coming in this summer, as well as Jacolby Whitaker, all of which should factor into the mix."
"We made significant progress up front and still have some positional battles to decide. We had some injuries and some guys on limited rep count, but I'm excited about the talent level we have there. Anthony Pullins and Travis Wiggins are bonafide starters, and the development of Devonte Jones, Shane Roberson, Jake Wallace and Marshall Womack has given us some veterans that have been in the fire and taken significant snaps. A.J. Brown and Hayden Scottare two young guys that could play major roles and we'll just need both of them to take that next step moving forward."
"This is the position that continued to shine all spring. Kedrick Harrison, John Franklin, Jamal Allen, Mitchel Zimmerle, Darrell Vanerson and Lamont Alexander, along with redshirt freshman Paul Hill, give us solid two-deep options. We also have some young guys developing, including Gary Sampson and Jack Martin, so I feel really good about that position. They really were the defensive theme, being able to change the line of scrimmage in tackles for losses and pressures. But I feel very confident about that position."
"Our two senior linebackers – Price Miller and George Stone – both had solid springs. They both have another year in the program after transferring in for last year and I'm going to lean on them to provide positive leadership. Once again, I come back to how I love the three redshirt freshmen. Spencer Choka, Teddy Britton and Anthony Jacobs all have bright, bright futures here. Unfortunately, we are without a two-year starter in Chance Barney, who has decided to retire from football due to significant injuries and family matters. He has been a real integral part of what we've been doing for two years and he leaves with our blessing and I can't thank him enough. That now puts even more pressure on those three redshirt freshmen to come on this summer and pick up where they left off."
"It has been a highly competitive situation with a lot of depth. Patrick Martin, Ahmad Muhammad, Zack Starnes, Germod Williams, Marlon Walls, Lawrence Ghansah all have experience and know what it takes to succeed at this level. You factor in Alize Ward who had a big spring and it's just a highly competitive safety position. At the cornerback position, Tre Rosser, Tarrin Mitchell and Trevon Smith are all solid and have played significant time in 2015, and each of them improved during the spring season. Aaron Foy and Trent Perriman create some depth and competition there for us and they really bring that speed element. At both positions we've got a few freshmen coming in that will be major influences, including a couple Texas high school track stars to boost that speed even more."
"Our biggest concern is the consistency in the kicking game. What it comes down to is thatCaleb Lewallen and Troy Duran have flashed at times, but we are looking to see more consistency that we need to win at the Division I level. We'll put a lot of pressure on those young men as their offseason training is going to be crucial to our success in the fall. We may even add another piece to that component that we don't have currently to help generate that competitive mix. I feel good about the other spots, as far as snappers, holders and returners and feel we'll be fine there, but that is an area where we need to see some substantial growth."
"We're back into offseason mode now and this is a sense of urgency time for academics. All of our scholarship players will be here for the duration of the summer for their strength training with coach Eason, then we'll get everybody here in mid July and have the OTAs, film study and player-led workouts. It ends one process and we feel really good about where we are in a number of aspects. What I challenged the team at the end of the spring game was to decide who we want to be as a team in 2016. If we want to compete for a conference championship and get back to competing at the national level, then we all need to show the sense of urgency and resolve in all that we do over the next 140 days or so until we kick it off in Lubbock."