Spring Practice Early Notes

Some observations and notes from the early days of spring practice.

Center of attention

Offensive coordinator Walt Belt said the main goal of the offense was finding a center. Devin Mondie is getting first crack and junior college transfer Brandon Berg is running No. 2. Senior Kyle Harris, who won’t be cleared for contact until after spring break, has also spent some time there and redshirt freshman Daniel Keith could also be a candidate.

“The first thing we need to do is find a center,’’ said Bell. “That is most important right now. We have to have that quarterback on the offensive line.

“After that we will put the four best players on the field. I do expect by the end of spring practice that we will have a true two-deep with 10 players.”

Last season the Red Wolves played with seven offensive linemen.

Positions changes

Aside from Mondie starting at center there have been other moves. Jerry Moorehead (6-foot-4, 209) has been moved to wide receiver from tight end, Darrius Rosser is now a defensive end, DeKeathan Williams is back at running back, Wright and Khari Lain to linebacker and Brandon Byner to A-Back.

Brothers and their numbers

Junior offensive lineman Devin Mondie was joined by his older brother Robert on the Red Wolves’ roster. Devin is wearing his No. 74. Robert, who was at UAB when the program shut down, wears No. 47.

The battle for No. 2

With Fredi Knighten entrenched as the starter at quarterback and last season’s backup Stephen Hogan opted for graduation the battle for the back-up quarterback is key. The candidates are redshirt sophomore Cameron Birse and redshirt freshman James Tabary.

“They all have different skills,’’ said Bell. “Fredi is the better runner and Birse, who has worked hard and reshaped his body, is the better thrower. Tabary throws better than Fredi and runs better than Birse.

As for Knighten, Bell said his role this season is improving on his reads and decision making.

“We had 29 sacks last year and a lot of that Fredi holding onto the ball too long,’’ said Bell.

Battle for No. 2, part deaux

Senior Michael Gordon is the man and the question is who backs him up? Will it be last year’s No. 2 Johnston White, who had a 100-yard game vs. Utah State, or two guys coming off injury, DeKeathan Williams or Tank Hollingsworth? Williams, who has also spent time at linebacker, showed well last summer in camp but was sidetracked by a torn MCL. He looks healthy this spring.

Tight end

There is redshirt senior Darion Griswold and redshirt junior Warren Leaphart. The third teamer might not be on campus yet.


Once again one name says it all. J.D. McKissic is almost all the way healthy and determined for a big senior season. Tyler Trosin is working as the No. 2.

There is now beef up front.

With the arrivals junior college transfers Jake Swalley (tackle) and Waylon Roberson (nose) and UAB transfer Robert Mondie, all 280-pound plus, there is lots of extra beef upfront. Also new to the mix is freshman Marcus Hudson, another 300-pounder, who could not play last year per NCAA ruling but was able to practice with the team. That has allowed last year’s starting tackle Darrius Rosser to move to end.

More athleticism

Defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen likes the addition of junior college defensive backs Allen Sentimore and Cody Brown and the return of Chris Humes on the backside of the secondary.

“We are way more athletic on the backside of our defense,’’ said Cauthen.

Humes went down in the second game of the season and will qualify for a medical hardship.

Cauthen said he would play several spots, including cornerback if needed.

Remaining dates

Friday, 4 p.m.; March 30, April 1, April 3; April 6; April 8; April 10; April 13; April 15; April 16. Spring game is Friday, April 17, 6 p.m.