NACOGDOCHES, Texas -- Just over four months after its last game of 2016, Stephen F. Austin took to the turf at Homer Bryce Stadium Friday afternoon for the first of 15 spring football practices.
"It was nice to get everyone back out here and finally get some work in," said head coach Clint Conque. "There were definitely some flashes of the athleticism that we were looking to bring in on both sides of the ball. We were able to dodge the weather a little bit and saw some good things. Now we'll watch some film, rest up and do it again tomorrow."
The biggest concern for the majority of the day was regarding the weather as heavy rain was forecasted to hit the Nacogdoches area. But the Lumberjacks decided to give it a go, and, other than some very windy conditions and a few rain drops here and there, came out unscathed from the 21-period practice.
Other than the weather, the other major noticeable factor was the number of new faces across the field. Five new assistant coaches were making their SFA practice debut, bringing some new wrinkles and putting their own spin on their respective position groups.
While other positions welcomed new faces, one of the most glaring was at the quarterback position where, for the first time since he arrived in Nacogdoches, coach Conque held a practice without either his son, Zach Conque, or Hunter Taylor behind center.
"It was a little tough to look over there and not see (Zach) there," Conque admitted. "Both he and Hunter have been constants in this program since I got here. But players come and go, and I'm really excited about this group of quarterbacks we have and their potential, as well as the rest of the positions across the field. But it was a little different today for me."
But for as much as has changed, there were many elements that didn't. Just nine minutes into the first practice, SFA began its usual "cheetah" drill -- a high-tempo, two-minute offense making its way down the field. Despite the high winds, SFA's receiving corps showed the reason for its optimism with athletic catches from Trae Hart, Jonathan Sam, Cody Williams, Kiki Hill, Terian Goree and Frank Iheanacho highlighting the afternoon practice.
Defensively, the Lumberjacks showed an increase in talent as well behind interceptions from Trey Ramos, Marlon Walls and Fre'Zarian Harrison. With starters such as John Franklin Aaron Foy and Alize Ward seeing limited action due to offseason surgeries, it opened the door for newcomers and redshirt freshmen to see some quality reps, which should prove to be a constant theme throughout the spring.
With the first of the 15 spring practice sessions down, SFA will have little time to prepare for the second day of spring ball, retaking the field at Homer Bryce at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned to SFAJacks.com for updates throughout the spring leading up to the 2017 Purple and White Spring Game on Saturday, April 22nd.