Today we take a look at some of the movers and shakers through the midway point of spring practice. Certainly, things are definitely looking up at wide receiver, where Kelvin Grant and Chansi Stuckey are starting to make a name for themselves.
Analysis: Perhaps no other receiver has emerged as a big play threat quite like converted quarterback Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey electrified the fans in attendance during Saturday's scrimmage by turning a routine 10-yard pitch and catch into a 30-yard big play. On the afternoon, he brought in 3 catches for 61 yards and looked awfully tough to bring down in the open field.
Quote to Note: "Chansi's our big play guy right now," said Charlie Whitehurst afterwards. "He's the guy that is making things happen out there."
Outlook: If anyone was questioning this move before the start of spring practice, they aren't now. Stuckey has clearly emerged as the go-to guy in the absence of Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood.
Analysis: The question marks surrounding this talented wide out have seemingly disappeared, especially after his 5 catch, 52 yard, and one touchdown performance during Saturday's scrimmage.
Quote to Note #1: "He looks like he could be the go-to guy, but I don't know," said Whitehurst. "We really won't find that out until mid-September, but Kelvin is definitely coming along."
Quote to Note #2: "He's getting his stuff together off the field and mentally," said fellow wide out Curtis Baham. "I think we've only seen just some of what he can do for us."
Outlook: Grant is playing hard, playing smart, and giving 100% on every play both with and without the football. If Grant and Stuckey can keep up their high level of play, you have to figure the wide receivers won't miss a beat this fall.
Analysis: Furr has emerged as leading candidate to replace former 4-year starter Aaron Hunt. During Saturday's scrimmage, he connected on a 44-yard field goal against a live rush, and also drilled a 42-yarder with the entire team around him trying to break his concentration.
Quote to Note: "We've got to find someone to compete with Furr," Bowden said late last week. "He's the #1 guy right now."
Outlook: He has more leg strength than Cole Chason, and better accuracy than Jad Dean. This one isn't over, but Furr has the clear edge as the Tigers begin the second half of spring practice later today.
Analysis: The North Augusta native ran 9 times for 32 yards on Saturday. While those numbers may not be mind boggling, Merriweather may emerge as a short yardage specialist before the end of spring ball. His low center of gravity and his desire to force the action at the line of scrimmage will get him more snaps in 2004.
Quote to Note: "He's got to carry over to the fall," said Bowden. "Last year he did some things in the spring, but it didn't carry over."
Outlook: Merriweather had a strong spring last year, only to be lost in the shuffle at running back after having trouble with his blocking assignments on pass plays. This year, he appears to be doing better not only with his blocking, but also with his running. The second half of spring ball will go along way in determining his playing time this fall.
Analysis: There is a reason why Tommy Bowden has singled out the play of one of his top defensive tackles in each of the last three practices...he deserves it. Simply put, Trey Tate has been one of the most consistent defensive tackles this spring.
Quote to Note: "It's all about leverage and effort," said Bowden. "He's been our most consistent guy up front so far."
Outlook: Three weeks ago, most people were talking about Chris McDuffie and Cory Groover. Now, Tate has emerged as one of the early stars of spring ball and a vocal leader of the defensive line.