As Spring football begins to heat up, the Florida Atlantic Owls are still looking to answer some questions surrounding their offensive depth chart. Multiple impact seniors have graduated since last season and while starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson returns, there are a few spots left that will need to be accounted for. Here are five questions head coach Charlie Partridge and the Owls face during Spring practice:
Who will replace Lucky Whitehead at WR?
Lucky Whitehead was not only my favorite player from last year's team, but he was absolutely electric with the ball in his hands. His role as slot receiver and all-around quick person will be tough to fill, but there is one name that glares out above the rest: Henry Bussey. The sophomore athlete will be asked to line up in the slot and come out of the backfield on a few plays as well. Bussey has a small amount of game experience to build on, but between his Lucky-resembling frame and predetermined role in the offense, he should be on the path to production in 2015.
Who will replace Alex Deleon at TE?
Another one of my favorite players from last season simply due to his intangibles in blocking and route running, Alex Deleon leaves the Owls with a large gap in their offense. Luckily for FAU, coach Partridge signed his first JuCo player in Chandler Dexter and the 6'5" tight end out of Mississippi appears ready to step into a starting role. Dexter didn't catch many passes at his previous school, but his blocking should already be up to par with Deleon. If the coaches feel like Dexter is a detriment in the passing game, there are three sure-handed replacements anxiously waiting behind him. Dustin Bowens appears to have the initial lead for the second team spot over Michael Harrop and Nate Terry, but this position battle should figure itself out before the end of the Spring.
Who will replace Brandon Lyons on the OL?
One position of strength for the Owls in 2015 should be their offensive line. I say "should" because besides quarterback, this is the group with the least amount of turnover on the first team. The one position that needs replacing is at right tackle now that Brandon Lyons has moved on. Look for Kelly Parfitt, a transfer from UCF, to take the majority of the first team reps in Spring and parlay that into a starting role for the Owls. Parfitt joined the team last season and sat out the year due to NCAA transfer rules. Antonyo Woods is another young player that should contribute meaningful reps during camp.
Who will back up Jaquez Johnson at QB?
2015 will be Jaquez Johnson's final season as the Florida Atlantic starting quarterback. As someone who likes to get physical every chance he gets, it is absolutely shocking and blessed that Quez hasn't seriously been injured yet. *knocks on wood* Just in case Johnson does miss any amount of time, his back-up will need to be caught up to speed with how the offense operates. Greg Hankerson has had flashes of cool quarterbacking ability over the past few seasons but has yet to display the killer instinct that distinguishes him from the other reserves. The battle between him and Jason Driskel for second team QB should heat up as the Spring progresses, while newcomer Daniel Parr looks like he is headed to a redshirt season.
Who else will produce for the Owls?
Jenson Stoshak, Jay Warren and Greg Howell all return for the Owls and will look to contribute early and often. Following these known producers are Kalib Woods and Kamrin Solomon. The two receivers saw more reps towards the end of last season and 2015 could be the year that truly displays their talents. Trey Rodriguez, the grayshirt recruit from last season's class, finally joins the team and I'm curious to see if the hype is real for the young running back. Just like any other Florida Atlantic team ever, you can expect a walk-on or two to emerge from the dust and turn some heads early on.