NFP On Campus
Let’s open up this weekend’s notebook and see what’s happening on campuses across the country.
Spring practice update
Boston College: Earlier in the week I discussed the return of star running back Montel Harris, who arrived at spring drills ready to become the focal point of the offense once again. Sadly, Harris has been shut down because of his left knee issues after just one practice, so first-year offensive coordinator Doug Martin will have to be creative if this offense is going to be efficient without Harris. Chase Rettig and Josh Bordner will compete for the starting job at quarterback, and developing a running back to either start or eventually spell Harris is of primary concern. The Eagles went to 12 straight bowl games before going 4-8 last year, so this is a big season for Frank Spaziani and his staff. And the Harris health issue once again is not the start that anyone wanted.
Duke: Head coach David Cutcliffe may not have elevated the Duke program to new heights yet in his four years in Durham, but he has developed quarterback depth. The Blue Devils have seven quarterbacks on the depth chart this spring, led by rising redshirt senior Sean Renfree, a two-year starter who has been the leader of the offense. The pure passer is a proven signal-caller, but rising redshirt sophomores Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone have seen significant action as backups. Cutcliffe will be creative in how he uses Connette and Boone because they are very good runners, especially in short-yardage situations.
ICONGary Patterson and the Horned Frogs are preparing for life in the Big 12.
TCU: The Horned Frogs will enter their first season in the Big 12 trying to calm the storm that erupted due to a campus-wide drug bust. Starting middle linebacker Tanner Brock was arrested last week, as well as starting defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey. Safety Devin Johnson was also arrested, and he started eight games last fall. David Johnson will likely replace Yendrey after starting nine games last season at nose tackle, and sophomore Chuck Hunter, junior Ray Burns and senior Jeremy Coleman will battle for the open position at nose.
Texas: Check out my full spring preview of the Longhorns here.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders continue to deal with health issues, as wide receivers Eric Ward and Marcus Kennard are expected to miss either all or most of spring drills. Ward has a bruised shoulder while Kennard is dealing with a hamstring injury. Ward was the team’s leading receiver last year with 84 receptions for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns. Head coach Tommy Tuberville knows what it's like to deal with key injuries, as the team’s top two rushers last year, Eric Stephens and Deandre Washington, suffered season-ending knee injuries, and receiver Alex Torres suffered a torn ACL against Missouri.
Memphis: First-year head coach Justin Fuente will oversee a quarterback competition between Taylor Reed and Jacob Karam. Reed started nine games as a true freshman last season, completing 169 of 295 passes for 1,690 yards with 10 touchdowns against just four interceptions — including just one pick in the final five games. Karam is a Texas Tech transfer who has two years of eligibility remaining. He played in six games with the Red Raiders in his career.
Tulane: The Green Wave are being led by first-year head coach Curtis Johnson, who retained only secondary coach Jason Rollins when he took over. So this spring is about the players and coaches getting to know each other on and off the field. In terms of personnel changes, Derrick Strozier moved to running back from defensive back, and Brandon LeBeau moved to safety from wide receiver.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are staging a fierce quarterback competition this spring, as sophomore Adam Dingwell, has been joined by junior Jake Bernards, Oregon State transfer Ryan Katz and redshirt freshman Chad Jeffries, a pro-style quarterback who can also run. They are all looking to replace four-year starter Ryan Lindley, who graduated in December. The coaching staff hopes to determine the top three by the end of spring practice, then they plan to name a starter roughly 10 days before the season opener Sept. 1 at Washington.
South Alabama: In its first year in the FBS, head coach Joey Jones and South Alabama is employing an up-tempo, spread offense under new coordinator Robert Matthews. Defensive coordinator Bill Clark is also getting his defense ready for the up-tempo offenses the Jaguars may face this season.
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