We had a good spring dealing with some new staff members on offense and seeing them put in their systems and enjoyed watching that process and to see the growth that they had. Really proud of not just the way that Eli and Dwayne have bonded with the staff members, but also the way the players have bought in and working hard and doing the things they need to do to put themselves in the right position for a good summer.
Unfortunately, like a lot of people we were beat up at some positions where at times you weren't able to do the things you wanted to do in the spring. But I thought our guys fought through it. We return a lot of experience on defense and then offensively we're trying to replace some guys that have been a part of our program for a while, quarterback and O-line.
So watching those young players now try to step in to new roles is always, as a coach, it's fun to watch, but the process at times can be painful. That's what you do is you go out there and watch guys do their thing and help them grow.
I think the chemistry and leadership on our team is as good as it's been since I've been here. So I had a great meeting with the guys actually today about that and what we need to do to continue to take the right steps moving forward into the end of summer. So with that, any questions?
Jacoby Brissett gave you a lot over the last two years. Could you talk about the competition to replace him and how that looks after spring? How are they lined up? Are you close to making a decision?
Jacoby was a very good player for us and great person to be around every day. Anytime you lose a guy like that, you miss him. But I'm excited about the competition at quarterback between Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers. We're not going to announce anything until we feel like it's a done deal, and we're not there yet. And I thought both of them made strides.
Only thing I'm interested in now that they know the system is how fast they can advance. It's hard to judge a competition when guys are learning the offense for the first half of it. You've got to see them play without thinking as much as it went on. In spring game I thought both of them did good things.
So we'll get into summer and see where it goes, and probably sometime during fall camp we'll have a good feel for what we're going to do.
The other thing I wanted to ask you about was versatility of some players. Last year you moved Jaylen Samuels and used him a lot of different ways. Am I right, Hines is listed as a wide receiver, but you've moved him around a lot too. Could you talk about the versatility of those guys and how you use them maybe a little unconventionally?
We've got to get our best players and our playmakers the ball. Get them on the field and move them around. I've always felt like you use your strengths and hide your weaknesses.
We had injuries last year that everybody knows about. So we lost some other guys and we had to find ways to fill those play-making positions. And Nyheim was a high school runner, so it was easy to make that move for him, and Jaylen Samuels who does a lot with the ball already.
So it was more about getting them the reps that they needed and finding ways to feed the football to guys so they do something when they have it.
How has the addition of Connor Haskins impacted the kicking position? What, if anything, has he done to catch your eye?
He had a good spring. All the pressure kicks we put him into, he made. He's an experienced guy. He's obviously played in a lot of games and made game winners in his previous school and very confident. Like any kicker, guys didn't really know him when he got here, didn't know a whole lot about him. As spring went on and he made more and more clutch kicks in front of the team, I think that was something they were excited about.
It's unfortunate that Kyle Bambard missed spring with a pulled muscle because we were hoping to have a competition. But that will have to wait for fall. But it's definitely a position that's going to be competitive in fall camp. It will be wide open on who gets the job when we get there.
So that's kind of changed the dynamic of that position?
That's why we wanted Connor to come here. When he reached out to us about transferring, we did our homework on him and saw that he could compete at this level and would be able to help us until Kyle is in a position where he can be consistent, you need to have competition. Every position needs to be that way, and that's our job as coaches to create a competitive environment for each player so they know they've got to be their best every day. Having Connor here has helped us have that competition.
Pharoah McKever played in the bowl game with limited practice time in his new position. Now that he's had a full spring at tight end, how is he coming along?
He's learning more and more nuances with the position. I think being on defense has helped him big- picture-wise, and leverage-wise, and learning how to use his hands. Those things will translate into blocking, but he's still learning.
It's a work in progress. He's definitely a guy that you can put into the game and do certain things with. He and I talked, all positions are the same. You'd like to be a guy that you can leave in the game and do anything you want with on any down and distance, and that will be one of his goals is not just to be a package type player but be more of a guy that you can depend on the whole game if you needed to.
Obviously, competing on the field, but off the field as well. You have the Chick-fil-A challenge coming up, the golf tournament and Paul Johnson's gotten it four out of the last five years, I believe. So what can you say about being part of the tournament and what you think about seeing some other coaches out there?
Well, first of all, it's a great event. It raises a lot of money for the Universities involved and our charities. They match whatever you win for the University towards your charity.
So it's a great event that Chick-fil-A hosts. It's well-run, it's first class. The competition aspect of it is fun. As you mentioned, Paul's done a great job every year he's been there. He's got a tremendous partner too that helps him. Our job is to try to get down there and raise as much money as we can. Last year we were fortunate to get into the finals, and hopefully we can make a couple more putts and maybe win it.
As far as the team as a whole coming out of the spring, just what can you say? You've been able to see maybe in some of those position battles if anybody has stepped up specifically or if you have players that have definitely shown improvement in front of you at this point?
There are quite a few guys that have improved. I mean, roster-wise, D-line, I thought just starting there, Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill, Justin Jones, Monty Nelson. You see guys, Darian Roseboro making strides. I thought that James Smith Williams, a young guy that we red-shirted has gotten a lot better up front.
Our linebacking corps, Riley Nicholson and Jerod Fernandez have all had good springs. Shawn Boone's a guy we missed a lot last year when he got hurt halfway through the year at strong safety, and having him out there every day helps a lot. On offense, Tyler Jones is probably one of the more improved guys on the offensive line and needs to have a great summer.
But there were a lot of pieces that weren't out there this spring on offense. Unfortunately, we had a lot of guys nicked up in our play making pool of guys. So Bra'Lon Cherry probably as a receiver was probably the most consistent returner. But the most impressive was probably Stephen Louis. I thought he had a great spring. He was red-shirted last year due to an injury, and he really had a good spring for us on offense.
Dave, are you still expecting Richardson to rejoin the program this summer and what is his status?
Yeah, Will should be back here with us for the summer. I don't know, it's the middle of May when we start summer school, so should have him here for that full-time. That's the plan. Look forward to getting him back with the team and going forward.
So, if he does come back, he'll be kind of full status, I guess, or a full-time football player again, that type of thing?
Yeah, obviously depending on what kind of shape he's in and all that, we'll get him back going. But he'd have full privileges and be back with us academically and athletically.
Doeren: "We Had A Good Spring"