On the sidelines during Saturday’s first scrimmage of preseason camp, a beaming Allen Johnson proclaimed, “I’ve got another one. That guy will hunt.”
The reason for his claim was freshman Trent Ellis, who has been one of four newcomers who have made quite an impression on the Arkansas State coaching staff during the first three weeks of preseason camp.
“So far I think we hit a homerun with all of those guys,” said Red Wolves defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen. “I think we did well.”
Along with Ellis (6-2, 194, Daphne, Ala.), Ben Sukut (6-1, 185) from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Jeremy Smith (5-11, 161) is from Atlanta, Texas and B.J. Edmonds (6-foot, 200 pounds) is from Mobile, Ala., have all proven to be contenders for playing time as rookies. Ellis and Sukut are at Nickel; Smith is a cornerback and Edmonds is playing safety.
“I think all four of those guys have a very good chance of playing,’’ said Allen Johnson, who coaches the A-State secondary.
“Ellis came in here as a linebacker but we had depth at that position and we moved him to nickel so he could get more playing time. Now he might not be at nickel next year we will have to see what a year of Matt Shadeed and growth do to his body. Ben Sukut is the same way. He might grow into a linebacker. We’ll have to see.”
Ellis and Sukut are working with Justin Clifton, who started last season as a freshman, at nickel.
Smith was an offensive star in high school and a state champion sprinter.
“He has a elite speed and a lot of length,’’ said Johnson. “Seeing him on film he had great ball skills. He is someone who has a bright future.”
Edmonds, a south alabama product like Ellis, has played well early on.
“BJ Edmonds did a good job;Trent Ellis did a good job,’’ said Coach Blake Anderson after Saturday's scrimmage. “It is hard for me to comment on the others but I could not help but notice BJ and Trent out there a few times. We wanted to get some young guys reps and see where they are. We want to see where the they are in our system and it was good.”
Johnson said Edmonds has excelled at learning the position quickly.
“We are still making decision but I would expect that Trent Ellis and BJ would probably be on the travel roster strictly because of our depth at those two positions,’’ said Cauthen.
“They both have work to do. They both had MAs (missed assignments) today. They have got to be better at what they're doing they are both competing for that job. I would expect Jeremy Smith to be on the travel roster as well, the new freshman corner we got from Texas. He’s still got a lot of learning to do.”
Johnson said Sukut’s biggest adjustment has been to the college game.
“He played in a situation where he was the best player on the field every game and he has some adjusting to do but he has a bright future. He’s has good size and could grow into another position.”