The 2013 South Alabama spring football season was underway on a cold Thursday morning at the practice fields on campus.
Practice kicked off with individual drills first. Brandon Bridge looked like a man among boys today. The 2013 season will be the first season that Bridge will be eligible to play after transferring from Alcorn State last year.
Bridge displayed a big arm and good running ability, a skill set that allowed the redshirt junior to start for two seasons at Alcorn State. He did however struggle with a few over and under thrown passes.
Returning starter Ross Metheny is going through his first spring practice with the Jags after transferring from Virginia last summer. The left-handed senior had trouble keeping a handle on the ball, but displayed smart decision making overall.
Redshirt freshman Grant Powell was very impressive at quarterback. The sometimes overlooked quarterback from Germantown, Tenn. was throwing much stronger than any of the other quarterbacks and was able to hit receivers en route quicker than Bridge and Metheny.
Attention was spotlighted on Jay Jones, who many have not seen yet after transferring in from junior college in December. The 5-9 running back was possibly the fastest player on the field, and in spite of his size, was not afraid to run right at defenders.
Returning starters Demetre Baker and Kendall Houston all looked strong after an injury plagued 2012 season. Both Baker and Houston looked slimmer and faster, perhaps to better fit the mold of the spread offense.
Wide receiver Jake Howton had a fantastic first day of practice. Howton was constantly grabbing passes out of the air and finding space to get open. Corey Waldon was opening eyes today, with one staff member saying he was possibly the fastest player to come to South Alabama, when healthy. Waldon also made several good plays down the sideline.
Wes Saxton continues to be a physical freak. While he is physical, the junior tight end had a tough time keeping the ball in his hands. This could have been due to the fact the field was wet and it was very cold.
On the offensive line, Darius McKeller looked strong during drills. McKeller also looks to have slimmed down from his 350lbs he weighed in recently. The offensive line also lacked a familiar face. This will be the first season without center Trey Clark, who had started every game in South Alabama’s history.
On the defensive line, Romelle Jones earned cheers from the coaching staff after he broke a dummy during drills. Montavious Williams was seen a lot also, constantly making plays and causing problems. Ceasare Johnson was back on the field after a blood clot issue in 2012. Johnson showed amazing athleticism from his 6-5 frame, and doesn’t appear to have missed a step after missing last season.
Linebacker Desmond LaVelle reappeared as a Jag, this time not just on paper. The NW Mississippi CC transfer was impressive during drills, showing speed and even had a few pass breakups. Enrique Williams and Clifton Crews looked good as well.
Darrius Marrow was extremely physical during practice, but not so much that would warrant a penalty flag in a game. Qudarius Ford returned to the field after redshirting last year. Tyrell Pearson and EJ May had difficulty on coverage, being burned downfield more than once. Anthony Harris also participated.
At safety, Charles Harris was back on the field after redshirting in 2012. Charles Watson was impressive during practice as well, a practice which included him intercepting a pass across the middle.
On special teams, Logan Gunn was seen booting a punt that nearly carried 50 yards. He also participated in field goal drills. Kickoff and kick return were not practiced today.
The Jags will be in shells for the first time when they return to practice on Saturday morning at 9am.