Spring football is a riddle shrouded in frustration For example, Dee Liner, the transfer defensive lineman from Alabama, paced the sidelines of War Memorial Stadium like a caged animal, denied permission to administer the punishment his 300lb frame longed to deliver. All evening, Liner burst though the Red Wolves' thin offensive line, the whistles frantically blowing before he could flatten any of the five quarterbacks taking snaps behind center this evening.
But you see the potential.
Liner has a big-time look about him. So does Justice Hansen, the former Oklahoma 4-star recruit, who at 6'4" is the the tallest of Coach Blake Anderson's candidates to replace Fredi Knighten. Cameron Echols-Luper, the wideout from TCU, looks every bit as fast and dangerous as hinted. The potential is there. It's so there, in fact, that it's easy to overlook the sloppiness of Spring play or that the offensive line could be a little deeper.
But hey, it's Spring! The Red Wolves were moving so fast, one hardly had time to consult his numerical roster sheet. Fortunately, I was just quick enough to jot down these penetrating observations.
The Red Wolves Got Taller
Of the QBs in starter contention (James Tabary, Cameron Birse, and Hansen), none are listed shorter than 6'2", which is a contrast to Fredi Knighten's compact 5'10" frame. Also enjoying a growth spurt: the receiving corp. JUCO transfer Justin McInnis is a gangly 6'6", and Über athlete Omar Bayless gives whoever chucks the ball a nice 6'3" target. Add TEs Blake Mack (6'3") and Warren Leapheart (6'5") to the mix, and you have a freaking basketball team on the gridiron.
The Kicking Game Is In Fine Shape
With Luke Ferguson gone, Coach Anderson was left without one of A-State's most reliable punters in program history. But redshirt freshman punter Damon Foncham was pounding punts deep into the Little Rock sky Friday night. Placekicking has been on shaky ground since the departure of the great Brian Davis. But like Foncham, JD Houston and Elliot Cockrum both looked strong.
The Boys Are Back
Defensive monsters Money Hunter and Bo Sentimore both considered taking a leave from football after the 2015 season. Both changed their minds, and both looked good Friday night. Hunter especially seemed to relish the evening, picking off several errant passes and dishing out smack talk and chest-bumps as the night progressed. Also looking spry, Tajhea Chambers, who didn't seem hindered by the torn ACL suffered in last year's game against Missouri.
Soooooooooo, Who's Gonna Be QB?
James Tabary got the starting snaps, but Justice Hansen seemed to receive just as much time behind center, with Cameron Birse and DJ Pearson also seeing significant time. All had their moments, but Hansen hurled a scoring pass to Omar Bayless that could inspire the remaining Beatles to emerge out of retirement to write new songs. Honestly, I don't know who has the inside track, but Hansen is a big kid who hurls big passes and can also break off a big run.
This Red Wolves played fast and loose all night, and seemed to really enjoy busting each other's chops. They're fun to watch, so you might want to catch the A-State Spring Game next Friday in Jonesboro. Because after that, well, it's a long time to September, y'all.