Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Wolves start spring drills late

By JERRY SCOTT
ASU sports information

Arkansas State opened its 2010 spring football camp Monday afternoon, taking the field at ASU?Stadium in shorts and helmets for their first of 15 spring practices scheduled for the next four weeks.

The Red Wolves return 50 lettermen, including 27 players who started at least one game last season. Arkansas State also has four mid-term junior college transfers in defensive back Darron Edwards, wide receiver Dwayne Frampton, defensive end Brandon Joiner and linebacker Michael Lombardo.

The Red Wolves began the first stages of implementing a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze, with highly touted redshirt freshman quarterback Phillip Butterfield, of Lake Hamilton, taking snaps with the first team.

“I thought everyone did an excellent job as far as effort is concerned,” coach Steve Roberts said. “But we have to go back and watch film and we already know there are a lot of things we have to clean up before we put new stuff in on Wednesday’s practice.”

Ryan Aplin, who started three of the last four games at quarterback last season, is taking part in the practices, but is unavailable for any passing drills or team sessions because of injuries.

With the departure of Reggie Arnold, Arkansas State’s second-leading, all-time rusher, the Red Wolves will have a new feature running back as well. Junior Derek Lawson, who gained 949 rushing yards his first two seasons, and Jermaine Robertson are currently listed atop the depth chart, but several players will be in the mix during the spring.

Arkansas State will also welcome a pair of talented running backs in Frankie Jackson and Sirgregory Thorton in the fall.

Because of several injuries last season, a large number of players return to an offensive line that gained valuable experience a year ago. That group includes all-Sun Belt Conference selection Derek Newton.

Arkansas State also brings back starting tight end Kedric Murry, while sophomore Taylor Stockemer went through drills as the Red Wolves’ leading returning receiver.

Arkansas State’s defense, No. 1 in the Sun Belt last season, returns 10 players who started at one point in 2009. Among the defensive returnees are all-Sun Belt selection Bryan Hall, leading tackler Demario Davis and interceptions leader Kelcie McCray.

“We got a beautiful day for our first practice and it was great to get back on the field,” Roberts said. “I thought our effort was outstanding. Obviously, everything is new offensively and the defense also has to adjust to a whole new set of circumstances with the offense it is facing.”
It is the latest the Red Wolves have ever started spring camp during the Roberts’ era.

“We’ve normally started earlier and tried to get six or seven practices in before spring break, but we’re still trying to get as many guys as possible out on the field,” Roberts said. “I think we still have 14 players that are out, but we may get a couple of those guys back during spring camp.

“Neely Sullivent was cleared to practice Friday. Ryan Aplin still can’t throw the ball so he won’t be involved in any of the team sessions, but he was cleared today for some limited stuff.? With several guys out, that gives a lot of people a lot of opportunity.”

ASU will hold its second practice today at 3:30 p.m.