By JJ Perez
Notes from UTSA Football’s Spring Preview Roundtable.
EXCITEMENT RISING: UTSA returns to the football field Monday morning to begin spring practices. Head Coach Frank Wilson says the team is ready to go: “We’re very excited about it. We’re eager. There’s so much to build upon from a year ago.”
BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER: Wilson mentioned the team’s offseason strength and conditioning has a major key to UTSA’s success. “The culture has been set as evidenced by the tremendous gains in the locker room.. We have personal bests in lifts, and runs, and agility. We’re leaps and bounds better than we were a year ago. Hats off to Coach Ryan Filo.”
HANDLING SUCCESS: According to Wilson, a majority point of emphasis this spring will see how the team handles success. “We need to put it (success) in its right place as a building block and not just a leveling off point. We want to be a program that is ascending. Just getting to a bowl game isn’t enough.”
DAVIS IMPACTING STAFF: Last week, UTSA announced the hiring of former Alabama assistant Bo Davis as their new Defensive Line Coach. After a week and a half on the job, Davis is already contributing to the staff. Wilson on Davis: “We’re very excitied to have Coach Davis with us. You bring to the table an experienced guy who has coached in the biggest games on the biggest stages and have produced. We’re very, very fortunate to have a man of his caliber on our staff. His precesence is being felt in the meeting rooms. He has wonderful knowledge and brings value to our staff.
REPLACING LEADERSHIP: The graduations of long-time leaders Jarveon Williams and Michael Egwuagu have left a void in UTSA’s leadership group. Wilson says the leaders will emerge. “Leadership bears itself. It comes to the top. You can foster leadership. Guys have those intangibles. They just need the go ahead. We have some young guys who can do that.”
BACKUP QB: One of the major storylines headed into spring is who will be UTSA’s backup quarterback. Although UTSA has more QBs on the rosters this spring, there isn’t a lot of game experience outside of Dalton Sturm. Wilson says the competition for backup QB is an important one. “It’s imperative where we see where Jaylon (Henderson) is, where Manny (Harris) is, where Bryce (Rivers) is, how they fit in, how they compete. We’ll see how this spring goes but that position is critical for us. We’ll look for those guys to compete at that position group.”
NO GUARANTEED POSITIONS: With depth a concern at several positions, Coach Wilson echoed his mantra of his depth chart being etched in sand. “Repetition is your best teacher. For those young guys, it will give them experience. Those guys will get plentiful reps. We’ll let them compete because there is no guaranteed position. The depth chart is etched in sand.”
TAUAEFA SPEAKS: As it turns out, Josiah Tauaefa can speak. UTSA’s All-American LB met with media for the first time. The Roadrunners have a policy of not allowing freshmen hold interviews. No longer a freshman, Tauaefa says he’s looking forward to improve this spring. “Last year was my first year at linebacker. When I would get the calls, I would hesitate. I don’t want that. I want that to be second nature.
SPRING BREAK BREAK: UTSA will practice for one week and then take a week off for spring break. Coach Wilson says he thinks that’s a good time for the team to take some time off. “It times perfectly for us. Our strength and conditioning program started at the beginning of the year. We feel the week off is perfectly timed. Their bodies will need a break. We’ll come back after that and get after it.”
INJURIES: Wilson noted that three players will not participate in spring practices due to injuries. Safety Nate Gaines, FB Halen Stewart, and RB Brett Winnegan, will be out. OL Austin Pratt will also be held out of spring practices for precautionary reasons in an effort to give him rest. All three players should be available in the fall. Wilson says there are no grade issues with any of the players.
DEPARTURES: A spokesman of UTSA confirmed that safeties Chase Dahlquist and Justin Chavez have left the program. Wilson also noted that DL TJ King has left the program but there are hopes that he could return next year.
SAN ANTONIO STORM: The end of UTSA’s spring practices coincide with the beginning of the evaluation period on the NCAA recruiting calendar. Wilson says that the staff will be able to hit the local recruiting trail. “We really attack our city and expand beyond it. We’ll divide San Antonio and knockout 90 plus schools in one day. That requires a lot preparation. We’ll be busy doing that so that helps us organize.”