In the first spring under Dan Mullen, the main focus was on installing the offensive and defensive schemes and getting the players to grasp how things work and what’s expected from them under a new coaching staff.
In spring No. 2, the attention turned to player development — giving a bunch of reps to many of the younger players so the coaches could identify which ones are going to be ready to contribute significant playing time in the fall.
Here’s a look at five who emerged:
Zachary Carter, Defensive end/defensive tackle, redshirt sophomore — He stood out throughout the spring with his ability to put pressure on the quarterback and also stuff the run. He split his reps between end and defensive tackle, and he’s put himself in a position to see serious playing time at both next season. He was one of the most improved defensive players in the spring, and he’s clearly benefited from Nick Savage’s strength and conditioning program.
John Huggins, Safety, sophomore — He concluded his strong spring with a standout performance in the Orange & Blue Game. He returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown, recorded two tackles, including one for a loss, and broke up a pass. A fast, physical player, he showed he has the skill set to possibly flourish at the star position where Chauncey Gardner-Johnson made so many plays last season. He’s pushing Trey Dean for the starting role and should see significant playing time whether he wins the job or not.
Iverson Clement, Running back, redshirt freshman — Because the coaches already know what senior Lamical Perine can do, he watched while the other running backs got most of the reps in scrimmages and the spring game. One guy he had to be impressed with his Clement, a former four-star recruit who runs extremely hard and showed he’s ready to take on some carries in the fall if he’s needed. Between now and then, he’ll continue to work on his pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield.
Amari Burney, Linebacker, sophomore — This former four-star prospect started transitioning from safety to linebacker in the last two games last season and made the full-time move in the spring. He’s got good size, is very physical, and is one of the fastest players on the team — a combination that seems to make him a perfect fit at linebacker in coordinator Todd Grantham’s attacking defense. He showed in the spring he’s capable of making plays from sideline to sideline — and physical enough to take on blocks and come downhill effectively against the run.
Kemore Gamble, Tight end, redshirt sophomore — With C’yontai Lewis and Moral Stephens gone and Kyle Pitts lining up more at wide receiver, Gamble worked with the No. 1 offense throughout the spring and was a popular target for the quarterbacks. Big and fast, and with soft hands, he consistently made plays in the passing game and could be a go-to guy in the fall. He’ll enter preseason camp as the clear No. 1 tight end.
Just got a note Jalon Jones is transferring. So well never see him step up under CDM. Good luck. But damn no patience any more.
With 7 defensive players (6 are front 7 players) chosen in the first round of the NFL draft from the SEC and FSU I would hope that an Offensive Lineman would be on this list. If some talent does not emerge and quickly we are going to have some struggles I am afraid; warm and fuzzies from last year and spring notwithstanding, this league is full of beasts in the front 7.
Now THAT is a good point, Pompano. I can’t help but hope it’ll be OK in the end, and if nothing else I trust this staff, but hope is not a strategy when you get into the SEC schedule. Still, I hope StL is right and they get it all together before the Auburn game!
Whoa, Carter dont look like no college boy, Dude looks like a man! a serious one at that!
Movie star potential, maybe the next Rock after he’s done tearing up the SEC and NFL. I’m just glad he’s on our side!
I confess I am partial to Clement. i like his willingness to play safety, and his patience with the limited slots available on the field. So I look forward to his and all of these guys success. I hope the lack of offensive line being named is just due to the slower nature of development at that position, and that perhaps there is progress not visible to the fan’s eye.