Diehards who can't wait until the fall for football have the opportunity to catch a sneak peak at the 2009 Tarleton State Texans at tonight's annual spring Purple vs. White game at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The Texans were 8-3 in 2008, the program's

Diehards who can't wait until the fall for football have the opportunity to catch a sneak peak at the 2009 Tarleton State Texans at tonight's annual spring Purple vs. White game at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The Texans were 8-3 in 2008, the program's eighth straight winning season.  Tarleton has posted winning records in each of head coach Sam McElroy's four years at the helm.  He is currently 30-12 at the school.

"This is a fun time for our program and for our kids," McElroy said of the spring game.  "It's kind of a different deal because we're going to split everyone up and a lot of guys who haven't played before are going to get a chance to be in starting positions (tonight).  It gives us a chance to see how they respond in that role."

McElroy said plans are to balance the purple and white rosters to make the game as competitive as possible.

"There's going to be some mismatches, but that's unavoidable," he said.  "We're just excited to let the guys get out there and compete against each other for two quarters of game simulation."

McElroy cited several newcomers to the program who fans will want to watch for tonight.

"(Free safety) Lonnie Buchanan is doing a really good job for us in the secondary," McElroy said.  “He's a tremendous athlete with great size and he runs really well."

Buchanan is a junior college transfer from Mississippi Delta JC who is listed at 6-2, 195.

Another midterm transfer who has caught the head coach's attention is offensive tackle Adrian Campbell, a 6-5, 300-pound giant McElroy believes will be a great addition to the offensive line.

"He's really doing a great job up front, and most of the other guys up there are back from last year," he said.  "We're excited about the offensive line."

One of McElroy's main recruiting concerns came at linebacker, where Corey White, a 6-0, 220-pound transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, has impressed coaches.  White will not play on Friday, however, due to a pulled groin suffered in a recent practice.

Another addition to the Texan roster is no stranger to followers of Tarleton sports.  Basketball stalwart Eric Williams, who was recently named to the Daktronics South Central Region all-region team as a 6-6 power forward, is returning to the sport he calls his first love.

"Eric came out late because of basketball and he spent his first few days in shorts and shirt, but he's catching up fast and he's a great kid," the head coach said.  "He caught a touchdown pass in our scrimmage last Saturday on his second day in pads.  He's big, physically and has very good hands.  His hands are huge, and he catches the ball really well."

Williams, who averaged a double-double for the Texan basketball team this season, played both sports at Long Beach Community College in California and was recruited by the likes of Oregon and USC for football before coming to Tarleton to play basketball.

McElroy also cited several returning players who he says have been impressive this spring.

"Our quarterback play has been great," he said.  "(Two-year starter) Scott (Grantham) and Kelan (Luker) are both playing well and they're both great leaders."

Grantham is 17-5 as a starter at Tarleton and posted a passer efficiency rating of 122.12 last fall.  He was 154-283 for 1,993 yards and 14 touchdowns.  He also tossed 11 interceptions.

Grantham and Luker, who led Stephenville High School to the 1998 Class 4A Division II state title, will be on opposite sides for tonight's exhibition, and the receiving core will be divided to give both a number of proven targets with the likes of Eric Foreman, Devin Guinn, Dorian Williams, Eric Williams and others to throw to. 

Foreman led Tarleton with 40 receptions for 661 yards in just nine games last season.  He caught a 64-yard touchdown from Grantham on the final play of a 24-21 win at Southwestern Oklahoma State.  Guinn had 36 catches for for 468 yards and five touchdowns as a junior after leading Tarleton in receptions, yards and scoring catches as a sophomore in 2007.

McElroy says the offensive backfield is in good shape with the return of Roderick Smith, who rushed for 1,076 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2008.  Travis Evans ran for 729 yards and is also back after being granted an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA.

McElroy also praised the progress of several returning defensive players, including Jamaal Steamer and Alonzo Horton up front and Marcus Phillips and Ben Dambold at linebacker.  Phillips tied for the team lead in tackles last season with 66, while Steamer, who recorded 53 total stops, led in tackles for loss with 19. 

McElroy also named Matt Knicky, a converted defensive back who was a reserve for the Texans in 2008, as a linebacker to watch.

"We've had a lot of kids stepping up and working hard," McElroy said.  "We're still figuring out who our guys for the fall are going to be at several positions.  The spring game is another step in that process."