Tarleton State saw its first intrasquad football scrimmage cut short by lightning Thursday afternoon.
Head coach Cary Fowler says the first two units got plenty of work in both offensively and defensively, but he hoped to see more of the program’s younger players.
“We’re going to finish this thing in the morning,” Fowler said after deciding not to wait for the storm to pass. “I want to take a good look at some of these younger kids and see who is going to establish themselves as someone we could possibly get ready to help us this fall.”
The first two units traded blows, with a highlight by the offense almost always followed by a big play from the defense.
“It’s like that any time we’re going head-to-head,” Fowler said. “Our offense will do really good for a while, then our defense takes over. I like to think it’s because we’re pretty good on both sides of the ball. I know it’s great for competition, and that’s going to make us a better football team.”
The biggest highlight offensively came when Nick Stephens hit Jamal Mays with a long touchdown pass. Stephens, a junior transfer from Tennessee, split snaps with sophomore Aaron Doyle.
“Nick is great,” Fowler said. “He just got here at the start of the summer and he already knows our offense inside and out and he has no problem taking control of the offense in the huddle and at the line. We couldn’t ask any more out of him.”
But Doyle, Fowler said, will see plenty of action.
“We’re going to run Doyle out there some every game. That’s the plan,” Fowler said. “He’s too athletic and mobile not to use.”
Immediately after Stephens’ touchdown pass, linebacker Damian Perkins intercepted one for the defense.
“Perkins is always making big plays,” Fowler said. “He might turn out to be one of the best players in the conference.”
Perkins was once a preseason All-American at Stephen F. Austin, where he played both linebacker and running back.
Defensive end Anthony Gonzales, linebacker Matt Knicky, rover Cassius Bradley and offensive linemean Teavis Durgin all missed the scrimmage. Knicky, Bradley and Durgin are all suffering from minor injuries, and Fowler expects each to return soon. Knicky led the Texans in tackles last year, and Fowler says Bradley has earned the starter’s spot at rover. Gonzales, who was a first-team junior college All-American at Blinn College last year, was excused for personal reasons and will be on the field today.
Fowler pleased with depth at receiver
Head coach Cary Fowler is happy with the progress of several position groups on his team, but none he says, shows more depth than the receiving core.
“We have so many good receivers, we’re going to be leaving some good ones home when we travel,” Fowler said.
Fowler quickly listed off eight names of receivers he says are capable of putting up big numbers as the Texans work to replace 1,000-yard wide outs Devin Guinn and Jahmeel Hobson.
Devon Gray, son of former NFL player Mel Gray, has continuously impressed coaches since the start of spring ball, and Will Randle has had a strong training camp so far, Fowler says.
Jamal Mays made the biggest play in Thursday’s scrimmage with an over-the-shoulder, one-handed grab on a long touchdown strike from Nick Stephens.
True freshman Brandon Lowery ran the 100m in 10.3 seconds in high school and should figure into the rotation along with Arthur Buckingham, Chuck Stermer and Lance Clark.
The best of the bunch, however, may be two of the newest Texans. Bola Omisanya is coming off a big season with junior college national champion Blinn College, and Fowler believes Saalim Hakim may be one of the fastest players he’s seen during his nine years of coaching at the Division II level.
“I coached against (two-time Division II 100m champ and running back) Olan Coleman when he was here,” Fowler said. “I bet Hakim can run with him. He just hasn’t played much football and doesn’t really know how to use his speed yet, but he’ll figure it out, and when he does he’s going to be hard to stop.”
Don’t call it hazing
Coaches and members of the university’s public relations staff hate the term “hazing” and everything it implies.
Hazing may be a bit strong of a word for what senior offensive lineman Josh Martin did to his little brother, freshman lineman Ryan Martin, but Josh certainly took advantage of the opportunity to pick on Ryan.
While taking his helmet off for a quick water break during a practice this week, Ryan Martin’s head quickly grabbed the attention of everyone around him (see photo below). He says Josh was the barber and he was forced to go along with it.
“Josh has been waiting a long time to do that,” offensive coordinator and line coach Scott Carey said.
Josh was all smiles as his brother showed off his ugly new hairdo, and Ryan was taking it in stride.
“Looks good don’t it?” Ryan asked.
A trainer quickly ordered him to put his helmet back on before his head could get sunburned.