Sunday, March 2, 2014

Southern Arkansas Begins Spring Football

Mulerider football opens spring practice; Spring game set for March 20
MAGNOLIA, Ark. – After posting consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003, the Southern Arkansas football team has begun their spring slate of practices in preparation for the 2014 fall season.
The 15-date slate of practices starts on Tuesday, February 25 and culminates with the annual intra-squad spring game on Thursday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m.
The Mulerider football team will enter spring practice with several unknowns as they are forced to replace starters at several key positions on both sides of the ball.
First and foremost, the Muleriders will begin to groom a new starting quarterback in the wake of the departure of three-year starter Tyler Sykora. In doing so, the Muleriders have brought in three transfer quarterbacks at semester to join last year’s backup Si Blackshire in the stable of potential signal-callers. Despite being the backup the previous two seasons and potential favorite, Blackshire will not be able to participate in spring practice as he has one more semester of eligibility remaining, which will be used in the fall.
The Muleriders will also be searching for a new starting running back after the team’s all-time leading rusher and scorer, Mark Johnson, played his final season in 2013. In the mix to fill that void left by Johnson are: Marque Burris, Chris Campbell, Karon Dismuke, Deandre Jenkins, Michael Nunnery, and Deion Williams. All of those potential backs were on the team least year, with Burris, Nunnery, and Williams red-shirting. Campbell, Dismuke, and Jenkins saw limited carries last season, but combined for three touchdowns.
In the receiving corp. the Muleriders will look to find replacements for steady receivers, Jack Brown and Brooks White. Brown and White combined for 651 yards on 47 catches with four touchdowns between the two. Returning to the receiving mix will be speedster Zikerious Ware, Brandon Hobdy, Tevin McDonald and Paul Walker-Hall. Last year, Ware caught 22 passes for 277 yards and a score. Walker-Hall, a tall target at the tight end position, caught 16 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
The offensive line is where the Muleriders will not see much change as they return four of their five primary starters from a year ago. Among those returning starters are: Dillan Bever, Jonathan Greenidge, John Miller, and Nick Nichols. Adding depth to the O-line will be returners Zack Bever, DeMarte Clayton, John Dye, Marquon Edmond, Colby Geissen, Mark Jenkins, Billy Linton, Chris Merlene, and Dalton Wilkes.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Muleriders will have the biggest hole to fill in the linebacking corp. as they lost starters Sam Cowling, Mark Spaight, and Tate Mustin. The Muleriders do have several linebackers returning that served in backup roles last year in Luke Lansdell, Ivan Ramos, and Keanu Soto. They will also have the services of redshirts such as Donald Lollis, Tyree Reese, and Aaron Wynn.
Along the defensive line, the Muleriders will have starters Phillip Gahr and Nolan Duncan back while they have to replace Alex Mills and Brandon Moton. Potential replacements for Mills and Moton are Larance Hale and Calvin Lyons.
In the defensive backfield, the Muleriders are slated to have the return services of Jeremy Crayton, Thomas Humphries, Vincent Steward, Demario Thomas, Q’Niko Thomas, James Thurston, and Quan Warren. 
Be sure to check back with throughout the spring football schedule for more updates leading up the spring game.
Daniel Gallegos
Sports Information Director
Southern Arkansas University

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