Back when I did the recruiting roundup for ULM in February, I predicted that it would probably be either Brayle Brown or newcomer Daniel Fitzwater that ended up as the Warhawks' new starting quarterback. Brown backed up Pete Thomas last year and had the most experience of the group, while Fitzwater was coming in as one of the best JUCO transfer QBs in the country. I just about completely ruled out the possibility of redshirt freshman Garrett Smith wrestling the reigns of the offense away from one of the incumbents. I was wrong.
Smith is now listed as the sole number one QB on the official ULM depth chart after a very solid fall camp. He was in competition with Brown and clearly outperformed the fifth-year senior in both of the team's scrimmages.
"Garrett continues to mature. He's got some abilities to make some plays with his feet and his arm, as was demonstrated tonight," ULM head coach Todd Berry said after the team's second scrimmage Saturday night. Smith showed his dual-threat ability, rushing for a touchdown while throwing for two more. Meanwhile, senior Brayle Brown threw two interceptions, including a pick-six that went 80-yards the other way courtesy of redshirt freshman corner Marcus Hubbard.
In other news, fifth-year senior DeVontae McNeal has been taking first-team reps at running back after missing all of last year due to injury. The explosiveness we saw flashes of two years ago should be a much-needed addition to what was a woeful running game in 2014. He has been splitting time on the first team with sophomore Kaylon Watson. Tyler Cain, the Warhawks' second-leading rusher last year, was injured early in fall camp and will be out for the year.
The defense should continue to be the strength of the team with nine starters returning from a nasty 2014 group. I expect fifth-year senior NT Gerrand Johnson to have an absolute monster year and get drafted next May. He led a first-team pass rush that got to the (not live) quarterback four times on Saturday. The secondary returns four starters from last year and has also given signs of quality depth behind them, including Hubbard.
The Warhawks will be tested right out of the gate when they take on preseason #9 Georgia on September 5th. We will have more on that game as the start of the season gets closer. It's almost here!!!