Every spring, college football fever kicks in. For a few weeks, college teams come together between the NFL combine and NFL draft and start their spring practice. Here freshman get their first taste of the next level. Transfers join the team and begin to battle for their roster spot. Position battles start, and some end within this timeline. Here are Matt’s spring notes for March 3rd- March 6th.
J.J. McCarthy is expected to take a step forward in the offense this year. He has been connecting with senior wide receiver Cornelius Johnson who is expected to be the number one.
True freshman Cole Cabana is making moves on the special teams squad.
Both running backs Alton McCaskill and Brandon Campbell will likely be out all of spring, leaving reps to Stacy Sneed and Kelan Walker. McCaskill is back and running, and coaches are pleased with his progress but aren’t expecting him back this spring.
Returning quarterback Lucas Coley has a slight lead on the starting job over Texas Tech transfer quarterback Donovan Smith. It’s still early, but head coach Dana Holgerson expects this battle to go down to the wire.
Starting quarterback Jalon Daniels will be on a “pitch count” this spring. Kansas coaching staff wants to ensure he’s 100% healthy heading into the fall season.
Transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong and returning quarterback MJ Morris will be in a battle for the starting job. Morris has looked bigger in practice, even though both are listed as the same size.
The wide receiver room has been disappointing. While it’s still early, many expect the coaching staff to look into the portal next month to help bring a more established player into the room.
True freshman Jaxson Lavender has been impressive and has shown some good chemistry with starting quarterback Preston Stone. He has been running with the 1’s early in practice.
Former highly rated running back Camar Wheaton has been suspended due to academic issues.
Both quarterbacks Brady Cook and Sam Horn have missed practice due to injuries. Cook had shoulder surgery in the off-season. Horn injured his arm while pitching for the baseball team. Horn is expected back soon. With both QB’s out, transfer Jake Garcia has looked impressive and could be moving toward the starting job.
Luther Burden has solidified himself as the alpha in the offense and is already impressing. Mookie Cooper has moved into the WR2 role. Once a highly-rated recruit, can he possibly return on his high value just a few seasons ago?
Head Coach Jeff Hafley has been praising the speed of UCF transfer wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe. He claims he is “the fastest player in the ACC.”
New offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has already excited players and fans about their spread/air raid offense. Their goal is to spread the defense out and cause conflict. Tyler Van Dyke could benefit from this after a tough year last year. True freshman Emory Williams is reportedly being given a “shot” to win this job. While I expect he’ll be the backup, the coaches say he already “looks the part.”
RB Trevonte’ Citizen is currently out of practice and could miss spring recovering from his ACL injury.
Malachi Nelson is throwing at practice. This is a good sign after he was spotted in a sling earlier this off-season and had some shoulder surgery.
WR Zachariah Branch is already impressing in camp with some one-handed catches and over-the-shoulder catches.
QB Drake Maye looks like he did last year. He seems comfortable in the offense.
Transfer WR Devontez Walker already looks unstoppable. He’s causing issues for the UNC secondary and seems to be the most dangerous receiver in the room. Gavin Blackwell seems to be settling into the slot role but has struggled with some drops in practice.
George Pettaway and Omarion Hampton have looked explosive in practice, but Pettaway seems to have a slight edge in the receiving game.
WRs Winston Wright and Kentron Poitier have impressed in practice. Wright has been creating separation and making tough catches. Poitier has been using his size and attacking the ball in the air.
True freshman receiver Vandrevius Jacobs had a standout couple of days. He has attacked the ball and been playing above his size.
QB, AJ Duffy has also looked impressive in drills and could point to a bright future for the Seminoles.
One practice in Quinn Ewers is reminding people why he was branded as “special.” He made multiple throws over the middle to Xavier Worthy and Whittington while hitting deep shots to Johntay Cook and Adonia Mitchell. Both Worthy and Mitchell struggled with drops in practice.
As reported by Jeff Howe of 247sports.com, Steve Sarkisian said, “redshirt freshman Maalik Murhpy and true freshman Arch Manning can push Ewers for the starting job he won last August if they’re up for it.” Sark would praise Ewers and the growth he’s shown this off-season.
Sark also told everyone that Worthy played with a broken hand in the second half of the 2022 season, which could explain his drop issue.
Jaydon Blue and true freshman Cedric Baxter Jr. got first-team reps, with Jonathon Brooks out for spring due to hernia surgery. Both looked impressive.