In less than 72 hours, the maroon and gold faithful will receive their first glimpse at the 2012 version of the Fighting Wildcats.
I must admit that the actual Spring Game means very little in the grand scheme of things. Coaches only install a fraction of their offensive and defensive systems during Spring drills, the starters receive fewer reps than they normally would during the regular season, and half of this year’s recruiting class have yet to even graduate from high school. However, the Spring game is the best and only real football-like barometer that we can use to measure our favorite football squads in late April.
So with that disclaimer, here are some of the players and positions that I will be paying keen attention to during Saturday’s glorified scrimmage.
Anthony Jordan (Running Back) — The 230 pound bruiser from North Atlanta High School led the squad with 9 rushing touchdowns last season. He has been one of the most raved about players in Spring drills this year. Jordan, who has an exceptional work ethic, is trying to prove to the coaching staff that he can be more than just a short yardage back.
Lavon McCoy (Offensive Guard) — BIG Lavon McCoy; and by BIG I mean almost 400 pounds BIG, was a highly touted prospect with offers from USC, Oregon, and the University of Washington coming out of high school. He is one of those players that Coach Jenkins has mentioned that we’re very fortunate to have. Last year, McCoy played exclusively on the defensive side of the ball. He demonstrated very good foot work and quickness at defensive tackle. This year he is moving to the offensive side of the ball and is expected to play offensive guard. His Junior College highlight film shows him playing both defensive tackle and offensive guard. McCoy looks great as a defensive tackle prospect but even better as an offensive guard. It will be interesting to see how productive McCoy can be against FCS competition.
Tavarus Dantzler (Linebacker) — Tavarus Dantzler has been penciled in as the next big thing at linebacker for the Wildcats. He has good size at 6’3″, 230 lbs, but his game is built on speed. Dantzler can flat out fly. Defensive Coordinator Yogi Jones has stated that he believes Dantzler can be a very special player and an all conference performer. Let’s hope that Dantzler rises to the occasion and fulfill his potential.
Defensive Line — Ryan Davis was simply the best defensive player in HBCU football last year. I am not quite sure that one player will be able to fill the void left by Davis’ departure. Instead, the Wildcat defensive front may look to maintain last year’s productivity levels by committee. Harold Love, Anthony Woodard, and Tevin Toney all had very good campaigns last year. Erik Williams rejoins Coach Earl Lane’s defensive unit after being sidelined with an injury a season ago. Brandon Bryant and LeBranden Richardson are UCF transfers who will look to have an impact on the defensive line as well.
Jim Pry (Offensive Coordinator) — Okay, so we will not be able to make any legitimate or rational assessments about new offensive coordinator, Jim Pry’s, play calling after Saturday’s contest. But what I hope to see is Pry’s influence on the passing game; and how the quarterbacks and receivers are understanding the principles of Pry’s passing attack. Pry is a disciple of the vertical passing game. His route combinations are not stagnant or predefined. Instead, receivers have options on each route (think Mike Leach and the Air Coryell offenses).
Quarterback — Jackie Wilson ended last season with a 66% completion rate and showed tremendous growth as the Wildcats primary signal caller. But Wilson is not a shoe-in to be the starting quarterback in 2012. Former Florida Mr. Football, Quentin Williams, is competing with Wilson and Broadrick Waters (La Tech transfer) to be Brian Jenkins’ trigger-man come September.