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May 10, 2010

A look at the current depth of Hokie football

By: Jimmy Robertson

Thomas and Clayton to continue battle for backup job

Logan Thomas

The situation surrounding Tech’s quarterback position was interesting this spring. First of all, there is no question as to who starts, given that Tyrod Taylor returns and that he played well last season. Quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain liked the way Taylor approached spring practice.

“I’m very pleased with his progress,” O’Cain said. “He’s got tremendous confidence now, and he knows where he wants to go with the ball. He’s making all the right decisions.

“I feel good about him. The game has slowed down for him. Now, he’s actually faster than the game and that’s what you want.”

The actual mystery with this position, though, surrounded the backups. Logan Thomas and Ju-Ju Clayton spent most of spring practice trying to claim a spot as Tech’s quarterback of the future. Neither, though, separated from the other, and the competition will resume when practice starts in August.

“I’ve been pleased with both of them,” O’Cain said. “For the most part, both have made good decisions. Obviously, Ju-Ju has a little more experience and gives you a chance to compete. Logan has better physical tools, but he hasn’t done it during a game.

“Ideally, you’d want one of them to separate, but that didn’t happen, and we don’t want to force that. So they’ll continue to work in the summer and we’ll continue the competition into early August. My guess is we’ll make a decision in the early part of August just to get the backup a few more reps and get him ready.”

Tech’s staff still plans on using Thomas in some capacity, probably as a tight end/H-back in a receiving role regardless as to whether he wins the backup job. They didn’t work on any of those types of things this spring, though.

“We just felt it was important for him to get every snap possible at quarterback,” O’Cain said. “We wanted to be fair, and the snaps help him and help us with our evaluation. He’s smart enough and talented enough to learn a small package in August. He picks things up pretty quickly.”

Quarterbacks Depth Chart

5 Tyrod Taylor (6-1, 217, Sr.)
3 Logan Thomas (6-6, 238, r-Fr.)
12 Ju-Ju Clayton (6-1, 218, r-Soph.)

Tech’s backfield as loaded as ever

Darren Evans

Tech running backs coach Billy Hite has an embarrassment of riches at the tailback spot, with both Ryan Williams and Darren Evans returning. In 2008, Evans ran for a freshman record 1,265 yards, but tore his ACL last August and missed the 2009 season. In his place, Williams burst onto the scene and rushed for a school-record 1,655 yards and won the ACC rookie of the year honor.

Williams got few carries this spring, as Hite wanted to preserve him while also working Evans extensively since Evans was coming off the knee injury.

“Darren is stronger now, and he got more confident as spring went along,” Hite said. “He was running hard and breaking tackles. Is he where he was in 2008? Not yet, but with 30 days of fall camp [in August], he’ll get there.

“I didn’t give Ryan many carries. He was sick for part of spring and then he took a shot on his knee. It wasn’t anything serious, but after that, I just held him out.

“I really want to get back to splitting carries between two tailbacks. I’ve said this before, but I really think I cost Cyrus Lawrence an NFL career by running him too much. So I want to even the carries, and I don’t think we lose anything with either in the game.”

David Wilson missed portions of spring practice while competing for Tech’s track and field team, but he displayed immense potential. In fact, he’s open to redshirting, but he showed so much this spring that the coaches are second-guessing that idea.

“That decision’s not going to be made until after fall camp,” Hite said.

The surprise of spring was Tony Gregory, a speedster who caught everyone’s eye with his burst and ability to make people miss in the open field.

“He reminds me of Lee Suggs,” Hite said. “He’s got the same stride and build. He’s bigger and stronger now and he knows what we’re doing. It was exciting to see how much he has improved.”

At fullback, Josh Oglesby and Kenny Younger came out of spring at the top of the depth chart. Oglesby, who was moved from tailback before spring practice, became more physical as a blocker and gives the staff additional options in both the running and passing game.

“In our last scrimmage, he made two or three blocks where he was physical instead of just walling off his guy,” Hite said. “So that was good to see. Josh is strong and put together. He can run and has great hands, so he gives us another dimension.

“Kenny is an outstanding blocker. He’s physical and strong, and I like what he’s about. Then you throw in Joey Phillips and Josh Call, both of whom improved, and we’re pretty good at fullback, too.”

Tailbacks Depth Chart

34 Ryan Williams (5-10, 211, r-Soph.)
32 Darren Evans (6-0, 223, r-Jr.)
4 David Wilson (5-10, 195, Soph.)
22 Tony Gregory (6-0, 186, r-Fr.)
46 Zac Evans (5-10, 194, r-Soph.)

Fullbacks Depth Chart

25 Josh Oglesby (5-11, 216, r-Jr.)
31 Kenny Younger (6-0, 235, r-Sr.)
37 Joey Phillips (5-11, 219, r-Soph.)
45 Josh Call (5-10, 245, r-Soph.)

Starting group is solid, but injuries hinder the development of depth on the offensive line

Nick Becton

For the first time in quite some time, Tech went into spring practice with some depth along the offensive line.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

Three key backups missed the majority of spring practice because of injuries, though all are expected to return in August. Michael Via and Vinston Painter both injured knees, while Andrew Miller was recovering from shoulder surgery performed late last year. So while offensive line coach Curt Newsome came out of spring practice feeling good about his projected starting unit, he expressed remorse over not being able to develop these three for depth purposes.

“We really wanted to get Michael Via out there at tackle some this spring and see what he could do,” Newsome said. “He’s a guy who started last year when Beau [Warren] went down and did a good job for us. We’re still going to try and get him some reps at both spots in August.

“Vinston had really improved from the fall and then he had the knee injury. So we’ll have to see how he comes back. And Andrew was able to do some drills, but no contact stuff. I did see improvement in his footwork and I’m going to get him some reps when we open fall camp.”

Tech lost two starters from the offensive line in left tackle Ed Wang and left guard Sergio Render. But Greg Nosal, who saw extensive time as a reserve a year ago, easily steps into Render’s spot, and Nick Becton came out of spring firmly entrenched in the top spot at left tackle.

“Nick had a good spring, and he’s got all the tools,” Newsome said. “He’s got a chance to be special. My only concern is that he hasn’t been out there [in a game] very much, but I think he’s more than capable.

“With Greg, I feel comfortable. He’s played a lot and he’s confident. I just need for him to continue to maintain his weight. He has a tendency to get light on me.”

The rest of the line returns intact, with Warren anchoring the center spot, and Jaymes Brooks and Blake DeChristopher handling right guard and right tackle, respectively.

“Beau’s the leader and a guy I trust,” Newsome said. “I like what Jaymes did this spring. We cleaned up some footwork issues and that should help him. He’s big and strong and has a good football IQ. I like what he’s about.

“Blake probably showed the most improvement of my group. We worked on some technique things, and he worked hard at it and got so much better.”

The backups on the right side are rather young and inexperienced. Hopefully, Painter can get healthy enough to help or David Wang can improve enough to play on both sides at guard. Also, Courtney Prince moved over from defensive tackle and is an intriguing option.

Newsome likes the potential of Laurence Gibson as a tackle. Gibson, who spent the fall at Hargrave, enrolled at Tech in January and certainly looks the part.

“He’s raw, but very talented,” Newsome said. “He’s really bought into what we’re doing. He has the tools and he’s going to get better. It’s just a matter of how quickly.”

Left Tackles Depth Chart

54 Nick Becton (6-6, 307, r-Soph.)
72 Andrew Lanier (6-5, 291, r-Jr.)

Left Guards Depth Chart

75 Greg Nosal (6-6, 278, r-Jr.)
76 David Wang (6-1, 295, r-Fr.)

Centers Depth Chart

60 Beau Warren (6-3, 292, r-Sr.)
67 Michael Via (6-7, 287, r-Soph.)
74 Andrew Miller (6-4, 282, r-Fr.)
53 Beau Gentry (5-9, 240, r-Soph.)

Right Guards Depth Chart

68 Jaymes Brooks (6-2, 298, r-Jr.)
71 Vinston Painter (6-6, 317, r-Soph.)
77 Dale Davis (6-2, 301, Fr.)
59 Courtney Prince (6-3, 277, r-Soph.)

Right Tackles Depth Chart

62 Blake DeChristopher (6-5, 304, r-Jr.)
63 Laurence Gibson (6-4, 288, Fr.)

Receiving group is deep and talented and should bring explosiveness next fall

Marcus Davis

The Hokies returned all of their receivers from a year ago, so receivers coach Kevin Sherman spent this spring making sure his top guys got enough reps to improve and stay sharp, while giving lots of reps to some of the younger players to prepare for the future.

The big three of Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts enjoyed solid springs and should provide plenty of playmaking ability this fall. Boykin finished the spring at the top of the depth chart at split end, while Coale and Roberts shared the top spot at flanker.

“They each had a good spring,” Sherman said. “They were good last year and now they’ve got to take it to another level.

“The two things I’ve impressed upon them, and all our receivers, is that we need to make more big plays down the field, and we need to be physical on the perimeter. Any of our running backs can break it, and our downfield blocking is the key to those big runs.”

Sherman liked what he saw from Marcus Davis and Xavier Boyce, two rising redshirt sophomores. Davis, in particular, is a physical specimen who is close to putting it all together.

“Last year, early on, he wasn’t quite ready for the speed of the game,” Sherman said. “But he gained confidence as the season went along. He’s very explosive, and he’s developed confidence this spring. When he’s focused and executes, he’s hard to stop.

“Xavier can be that same type of player, too. He played a lot last year and started the Alabama game, but he was up and down. He took a different approach this spring. He’s catching it better and he’s doing things more consistently.”

Younger players such as D.J. Coles, Austin Fuller, Nubian Peak and Ben Barber round out the group. This contingent got better with all the additional reps they received.

“D.J. is big, tall, athletic and can run,” Sherman said. “He’s a lot like Marcus. He’s got to focus more and get better at the little things. People have talked about him redshirting, but we haven’t even discussed that yet.

“Nubian’s raw and still learning, and the same can be said about Austin and Ben. Ben has great ball skills and Austin doesn’t have great speed, but he always seems to get open and catch the ball. All of them need to learn our offense better.”

On another note, Patrick Terry informed Tech’s coaches that he planned on transferring because of a lack of playing time.

Split Ends Depth Chart

81 Jarrett Boykin (6-2, 210, Jr.)
7 Marcus Davis (6-4, 234, r-Soph.)
29 Xavier Boyce (6-4, 225, r-Soph.)
18 D.J. Coles (6-3, 222, Soph.)
35 Austin Fuller (6-2, 205, r-Soph.

Flankers Depth Chart

19 Danny Coale (6-0, 208, r-Jr.)
11 Dyrell Roberts (6-2, 196, Jr.)
6 Nubian Peak (5-11, 183, r-Fr.)
15 Ben Barber (5-11, 212, r-Fr.)

Smith heads the tight ends group, but Hokies still looking for a No. 2 to emerge

Andre Smith

Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who doubles as the tight ends coach, came up with the analogy of the spring when asked to give his assessment of the tight end position following the Hokies’ Maroon-White game, comparing his small group to a bag of biscuits.

“We’ve got one bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. But when you reach down in the bag, the rest are just plain biscuits,” he laughed. “That’s kind of where we are right now.”

Andre Smith, who caught two passes for 30 yards in the spring game, is the bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. He’s the only one of the group to have played extensively in a collegiate game, and with his size, strength and speed, he possesses the prototypical traits of a tight end. He enjoyed an outstanding spring.

The rest of the tight ends are unknowns. Eric Martin, a redshirt freshman, is more of a blocker than a receiver, while Randall Dunn, who came to Tech as a receiver, is still making the transition to tight end. Prince Parker, a walk-on, also arrived as a receiver, and Rob Stanton, another walk-on, has tried to work himself into the picture. The battle for the No. 2 spot will continue in August.

“They’re working hard. They really are, and I’m hard on them,” Stinespring said. “They’ve got a coach who is grinding them to death because I understand the urgency of the spot. There have been some times when I’ve been disappointed in myself for not showing some patience when patience was probably necessary. But I want them to understand there’s an urgency level there. We’re not good enough at that position right now.

“There is an opportunity to be good enough. We didn’t come out of the spring with an answer, and to be honest, I didn’t anticipate coming out of the spring with an answer at that spot. But I wanted us to be a little further along.”

Tight Ends Depth Chart

88 Andre Smith (6-5, 271, r-Sr.)
86 Eric Martin (6-2, 261, r-Fr.)
13 Randall Dunn (6-2, 245, r-Soph.)
87 Prince Parker (6-6, 264, r-Sr.)
85 Rob Stanton (6-5, 234, r-Sr.)

First unit is in place, but Tech’s defensive line needs depth

Steven Friday

Defensive line coach Charley Wiles came out of spring practice relatively pleased with his first group – a unit that included ends Steven Friday and Chris Drager and tackles John Graves and Kwamaine Battle. The issue, though, is depth.

“Right now, I feel like we’ve got three tackles [Graves, Battle and Antoine Hopkins] and two ends [Drager and Friday] that we can beat people with,” Wiles said. “We had some guys improve, but we’re certainly not where we need to be. This summer will be big for us.”

In looking at that first unit, Friday may have been the surprise of the spring for Tech’s defense. After being a backup for three years, Friday took advantage of Jason Worilds’ decision to head to the NFL and made a lot of plays this spring.

“He consistently made plays, and big plays, too – sacks, tackles for a loss, forced fumbles,” Wiles said. “He got a lot of reps and he was solid. But can he do it for a year? Can he stay focused? That’s the challenge.”

Drager, of course, anchors the other side. He came on toward the end of last year, but leveled off somewhat this spring.

“I thought he was a little heavy,” Wiles said. “He’s worked so hard to get his weight up, but we need to trim him down and get him to 250. I think that’ll help his quickness and help him make more plays.”

The search for backups at the end spots centered on rising redshirt freshmen James Gayle and J.R. Collins, and true freshman Duan Perez-Means. Gayle enjoyed a solid spring – the best out of this group – and made several plays in the scrimmages, and the other two younger players showed the skills a coach wants to see. It’s just a matter of gaining a little more seasoning.

“All three have got to get more consistent,” Wiles said of the freshmen. “I’d say James is a little ahead because he made more plays, and that’s what it boils down to. But he and J.R. have the same issues in terms of inconsistency.

“I like Perez-Means. He’s a big kid who can run and shows he can be a good prospect. He’s on the bubble right now [as to whether he redshirts next fall].”

In addition to seeing Worilds and Nekos Brown depart from the defensive end spot, Wiles and the rest of the staff saw Jake Johnson decide to leave at the end of spring practice. Johnson, who had been moved from linebacker to end, informed the coaches that he was transferring to a school where he could play linebacker. So all the vacancies at the position make this a huge summer for those younger defensive ends.

At tackle, Wiles got what he expected from Graves – “He was excellent,” Wiles said. – and liked what he saw from Battle and Hopkins. Battle came out of spring ball with a slight edge.

“Battle did what you would expect from a guy who’s got a little more experience now, and Hopkins was better,” Wiles said. “He’s closer to fulfilling his potential.”

The picture behind those three tackles, though, remains blurry. Joe Jones showed flashes, and he reminds Wiles of former tackle Barry Booker, who struggled for three years before turning into a starter his final two years.

Tech’s staff made a couple of moves toward the end of spring. First, they moved Courtney Prince from defensive tackle to offensive guard. Prince missed last season with a torn ACL. They also moved Isaiah Hamlette from end to tackle and feel that move may benefit him.

Stud Ends Depth Chart

82 Steven Friday (6-4, 235, r-Sr.)
42 J.R. Collins (6-2, 255, r-Fr.)
90 Duan Perez-Means (6-4, 240, Fr.)
66 Tyrel Wilson (6-1, 221, r-Fr.)

Ends Depth Chart

33 Chris Drager (6-3, 260, r-Jr.)
99 James Gayle (6-4, 246, r-Fr.)
96 Josh Eadie (6-4, 235, r-Sr.)

Nose tackles Depth Chart

91 John Graves (6-3, 283, r-Sr.)
45 Joe Jones (6-2, 265, r-Soph.)
55 Isaiah Hamlette (6-4, 247, r-Soph.)

Tackles Depth Chart

93 Kwamaine Battle (6-0, 297, r-Jr.)
56 Antoine Hopkins (6-0, 296, r-Soph.)
53 Dwight Tucker (6-1, 284, r-Soph.)

Taylor shines in place of Rivers this spring

Lyndell Gibson

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who doubles as the linebackers coach, fully expected to go into this spring with returning starters at his mike and backer spots.

But Barquell Rivers, who started every game last season, injured his quad in an offseason workout, forcing him to miss the entire spring. Rivers hopes to be back for the start of the season – not a given at this point – and his injury left Foster in a familiar position, attempting to mold a young player into a potential starter.

Foster performed his task pretty well, as Rivers’ backup, Bruce Taylor, took advantage of the reps and became one of the top performers on defense this spring.

“He was outstanding,” Foster said. “He knows what he’s doing now. He’s always been a big kid who could run. But now he’s playing faster because he knows what he’s doing.”

Quillie Odom, Jack Tyler and Telvion Clark came out of spring ball behind Rivers and Taylor on the depth chart. Foster moved Odom from backer to mike and that move appeared to suit Odom much better. Tyler and Clark both had ups and downs, but the on-the-job training this spring served both well.

“I thought Quillie took a big step this spring,” Foster said. “I’ve been hard on him. I told him he needed to take the next step or some of these younger kids were going to pass him by. He was a pleasant surprise, and I appreciate his work ethic and competitiveness this spring.

“Jack had a good spring, and Telvion has all the physical tools, but he was all over the place from a technique and fundamentals standpoint. But he’s only a freshman. He’ll learn.”

At backer, Lyndell Gibson picked up where he left off from last season, when he assumed the starting role late in the year and played very well. He played great in the bowl game, and Foster saw that confidence this spring.

“He really enjoys the game,” Foster said. “He’s a physical kid. He has what I call a heavy shoulder – when he hits you, he knocks you back. The bowl game was a big boost for him. He carried that over to this spring and now he needs to have a big summer and get himself into great shape.”

Chase Williams, who enrolled in January, and Tariq Edwards fall in line behind Gibson on the depth chart coming out of spring. Williams’ consistency gave him the slight edge.

“Chase is a coach’s son and he’s got a good football IQ,” Foster said. “We’ve got to clean up some little things, but he’s physical and he’s got a nose for the ball.

“Tariq has the tools. He can run, and he’s athletic. But he was a little inconsistent.”

Foster left open the option of working Taylor at backer some next fall given Taylor’s great spring. That would enable him to get his top linebackers on the field in the event Gibson was injured.

“Bruce could potentially play both positions,” Foster said.

Mike linebackers Depth Chart

52 Barquell Rivers (6-0, 235, r-Jr.)
51 Bruce Taylor (6-2, 252, r-Soph.)
38 Quillie Odom (6-1, 244, Jr.)
58 Jack Tyler (5-11, 233, r-Fr.)
57 Telvion Clark (6-1, 227, r-Fr.)

Backers Depth Chart

39 Lyndell Gibson (5-11, 230, r-Soph.)
19 Chase Williams (6-1, 228, Fr.)
24 Tariq Edwards (6-2, 224, r-Fr.)

Solid spring for whip linebackers as Hokies attempt to replace Grimm

Alonzo Tweedy

Whips and rovers coach Jim Cavanaugh has the unenviable task of trying to replace Cody Grimm, an All-ACC performer and arguably the best player on Tech’s defense last season.

The candidates to replace Grimm included Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Alonzo Tweedy and Lorenzo Williams. Gouveia-Winslow came out of spring practice slightly ahead of the other two, though the competition will continue throughout the summer and into August. He was steady all spring.

“He had a solid spring,” Cavanaugh said of Gouveia-Winslow. “I’d like to see him play a little faster, but as he gets more knowledge of what we’re doing defensively and more confidence, I think he will.

“Tweedy has great speed. He just needs to learn our adjustments, but he’s come a long way from where he was when we first started. He’s much improved and has great potential. Lorenzo is a combination of the first two. He’s not quite as smart as Gouveia-Winslow and not as fast as Tweedy. But he’s a solid prospect.”

Zach Luckett also will figure in at whip in August. Luckett missed spring practice while rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in the Virginia game last season.

At rover, Davon Morgan will be the starter. Morgan started four games last season and brings playmaking abilities and experience.

“He’s a good player and he knows what he’s doing,” Cavanaugh said. “He does everything well.”

James Hopper, whom the staff moved from cornerback to rover before spring practice, is the backup behind Morgan and ahead of walk-ons Wiley Brown and Nick Sheehan. Hopper impressed Cavanaugh with his toughness this spring.

“He had a lot on his plate,” Cavanaugh said. “But he’s tough. He throws his body around out there. He needs to learn the parameters of our defense, but he can cover and he’s not afraid to hit you.”

Whip linebackers Depth Chart

43 Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (6-2, 210, r-Soph.)
28 Alonzo Tweedy (6-2, 191, r-Soph.)
23 Lorenzo Williams (6-2, 210, r-Soph.)

Rovers Depth Chart

2 Davon Morgan (6-0, 198, Sr.)
26 James Hopper (5-9, 183, r-Fr.)
47 Wiley Brown (5-10, 196, r-Soph.)
8 Nick Sheehan (6-1, 203, r-Fr.)

Defensive backs answer the call as Hokies replace Chancellor and Virgil

Eddie Whitley

Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray saw two key cogs depart after last season in the form of cornerback Stephan Virgil and safety Kam Chancellor, so he spent the spring analyzing replacements at those two spots.

Tech’s cornerback situation appears to be in good shape, with Rashad Carmichael returning at boundary corner, along with Jayron Hosley and Cris Hill, who battled it out all spring at the field corner spot. Hosley came out of spring atop the depth chart, but the reality is the three of them give Gray three solid options at any time.

“I feel really good about the position now,” Gray said of field corner. “Jayron just has a knack. He’s kind of lackadaisical at times. So you’ve got to (snaps fingers), ‘Jayron, go through your progressions.’ He’s kind of a laid-back guy, but he’s a helluva football player. The game comes easy to him.

“With Cris, you feel comfortable with him. You know what he’s doing. There are not a lot of mental errors, technique errors. So I can say I really feel like we’ve got three good cornerbacks. I’ve got to allow those guys to compete going into fall.”

Eddie Whitley may have been the most important person for Tech’s defense this spring. Solid play at free safety is critical to the defense’s success because that person gets the Hokies properly lined up, while also carrying out his own responsibilities.

“Eddie is a guy who has probably taken only two bad steps all spring, as far as reading his keys and being where he’s supposed to be and doing those types of things,” Gray said. “Now, he’s got to be able to finish and make some plays. But Eddie is a guy who’s very confident in himself.”

Antone Exum is a terrific young prospect who was around the football a lot this spring. He’s still learning the defense, but he makes a lot of plays.

Overall, Gray likes what he has.

“I really like the potential of this group,” he said. “I’ve had great players before. I think we can have three really good corners, and I think we can have two very good free safeties when it’s all said and done. There’s a lot of good chemistry, a lot of good communicators back there. So from that standpoint, I think we can be the strong part of the defense.”

Field Corners Depth Chart

17 Jayron Hosley (5-10, 172, Soph.)
9 Cris Hill (5-11, 181, r-Jr.)
27 Jerrodd Williams (6-0, 197, r-Fr.)
18 Germond Oatneal (5-11, 184, Jr.)
40 Mark Carter (6-0, 177, r-Fr.)

Free Safeties Depth Chart

15 Eddie Whitley (6-1, 191, Jr.)
1 Antone Exum (5-11, 207, r-Fr.)
44 Theron Norman (6-3 196, Fr.)
14 Jerome Williams (6-0, 214, r-Soph.)

Boundary Corners Depth Chart

21 Rashad Carmichael (5-11, 190, r-Sr.)
37 Jacob Sykes (6-0, 190, r-Jr.)

Hazley leads the pack at kicker coming out of spring practice

Chris Hazley

Tech head coach Frank Beamer had been in this situation before with his kickers. For the fourth straight spring, Beamer and his team entered a spring practice without a returning field-goal kicker, and on the three previous occasions, the Hokies unearthed gems that played integral parts in Tech’s success.

The candidates to replace All-ACC kicker Matt Waldron heading into spring practice included Chris Hazley, Justin Myer, Tyler Weiss and Zack Pickard. All of them had their moments, but coming out of spring practice, Beamer named Hazley the front-runner.

“I think, if we had to say right now, Hazley would be our field-goal guy and [Brian] Saunders would be our punter,” Beamer said following the Maroon-White game. “We’ve got some good kickers coming in, and the competition will continue. But if I had to say coming out of this [spring practice], that’s the way I’d see it. And [Justin] Myer would continue to be our kickoff guy.”

Saunders came out of the spring firmly in the top spot at punter ahead of Scott Demler and Grant Bowden. The fifth-year senior has been a backup behind Brent Bowden the past three seasons. He averaged nearly 43 yards per punt in the spring game.

The snapper for field goals, extra points and punts will be Collin Carroll. The returners figure to be the same as last season – Dyrell Roberts and perhaps Tony Gregory handling kickoff returns and Jayron Hosley returning punts.

Kickers Depth Chart

14 Chris Hazley (6-1, 192, r-Sr.)
48 Justin Myer (6-1, 212, Jr.)
80 Tyler Weiss (5-10, 156, r-Jr.)
9 Zack Pickard (5-11, 175, r-Fr.)

Punters Depth Chart

30 Brian Saunders (6-0, 212, r-Sr.)
2 Scott Demler (5-11, 192, r-Soph.)
92 Grant Bowden (6-4, 182, r-Fr.)

Snappers Depth Chart

50 Collin Carroll (6-3, 234, r-Jr.)
57 Jon Conlon (6-1, 230, r-Sr.)
52 Ethan Dickerson (5-10, 190, r-Fr.)