Just a few more days until the culmination of spring practices. The exact format hasn’t been quite decided yet, but as always, it figures to be a light affair. Things have seemed a bit quieter on the football front, but after 14 hard practices, the team will look to have some fun so this isn’t so much a what to watch for as it is a refamiliarization with the squad.
Much of the starting lineup in the front seven returns, along with a lot of young players who picked up some valuable experience in reserve roles. The secondary however, will see a number of new faces.
Coaching actually might be the most notable thing to watch on the defensive end. With Tem Lukabu’s departure, the Eagles will be employing co-defensive coordinators in Aazar Abdul-Rahim and Sean Duggan. The good side of that is schematically things won’t change. Execution, however, will need to. Again, we’re unsure exactly how the layout of this game will be, but it would be fun to see if the two DC’s are pitted on opposite sides and call their games a bit differently.
Michigan transfer George Rooks is the big new name that enters the fold. A big athlete who can move around on the line, the Jersey native has also been known to bat a few balls down. Hafley noted how he’s jarred a few balls loose in practice too.
Other notes from spring practices, Shitta Sillah just came back a couple of weeks ago after missing last season after game one, so it’s doubtful he’ll participate. Donovan Ezeiruaku returns after stepping up for Sillah, and junior Neto Okpala will also be a name to watch off the edge. Duggan remarked how the sophomore Edwin Kolenge has taken a big step over the past few weeks.
Inside, redshirt sophomores Nigel Tate and Owen Stoudmire come up behind senior DT Cam Horsley. Two more sophomores in Ty Clemons and Kwan Williams are big bodies that will compete to break through.
Last note, is freshman Josiah Griffin, brother of last year’s breakout Joe, joins the team. While he probably won’t make the immediate impact his brother did, he can give us a glimpse this weekend.
BC returns the entire linebacking corps. Super senior Vinny DePalma’s back, alongside Bryce Steele and Kam Arnold. DePalma was the team’s leading tackler, and the junior Steele returns after being sidelined last season. The trio are all main leaders on the team.
Then there’s Jaylen Blackwell and Owen McGowan as the key next guys up. Blackwell had a solid impact last season with 19 tackles and two sacks.
Many of the mainstays are gone on the backend. The likes of Josh DeBerry and Jason Maitre are gone, but now sophomores Jalen Cheek and Amari Jackson can build on solid starts to their collegiate careers. Jackson broke on to start four games in the middle of the season, but then an injury halted some of his progress.
But fret not, there’s still a strong veteran presence with Elijah Jones. Khari Johnson also comes back to his hometown by way of Arkansas, as does the Harvard man Alex Washington. All are graduate students with plenty experience.
At safety, Steve Lubischer returns after backing up Jaiden Woodbey. Cole Batson goes into his redshirt sophomore year after picking up valuable playing time by the end of last season, even starting the NC State game.
Shawn Battle, Carter Davis, and KP Price are the new freshman that arrived on campus early.
Bonus Special Teams
Connor Lytton had a tough season going 9/17 after only missing one his freshman season. He still probably has the leg up for the kicking competition, but Mass. sophomore Liam Connor will continue to compete with him.
Be sure to check out Curtis’s preview of the offense yesterday.