JSU Football Begins Spring Practice


The Jacksonville State football team opened up spring practice and hosted its pro day Monday morning at Burgess-Snow Field.

The five-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champions hit the field at 9 a.m. to run through their first drills of the new year, headed up by head coach John Grass as he begins his sixth year at the helm.

[Hear from JSU head coach John Grass in the featured video]

"We're excited to be back out here," Grass said. "Our bunch has had a really good offseason so far, and we're excited to see the fruits of their labor.

"We see guys coming out who are bigger, stronger, in really good shape and moving around really well. As always, we have to build depth at every position. We have a few spots that we have to get better at, for sure."

There was a noticeable difference in the number of red and white jerseys on the turf Monday morning and compared to years past. Grass contributed that to having only a few Gamecocks sitting out with injuries.

"It's good to have so many guys in uniform to begin the spring. We had fewer guys who had to have surgery during the offseason. We would love to have all of them ready to go, but we've had double out before than what we have now. The injury numbers are down, and knock on wood, we hope to keep it that way and stay healthy through the spring."

Following a record-breaking year of the offensive side of the ball, the Gamecocks return almost every skill-position starter and all but a few up front. Grass called having so many offensive returners "a luxury."

"I think having continuity and having experience back is important," Grass said. "You can't replace game experience, so we should be pretty good on that side of the ball. You always wish you could have a B.J. Autry or Tyler Scozzaro back, but we have a lot coming back, skill-wise, and I don't know that I've ever coach a team that had everyone back like that."

Autry and Scozzaro were just two former Gamecocks who returned to campus Monday to participate in the team's pro day. The participants first weighed in, hit the weight room and then went to the field for individuals. Eight more former JSU footballers joined Autry and Scozzaro to perform for multiple NFL scouts on the afternoon: Connor Christian, Shaq Davidson, Emmanuel Fennell, Demarcus Flowers, Lajarett Ford, Cade Stinnett, Quan Stoudemire and Justin Thomas-Thornton.

"I think pro day is huge for them," Grass said. "We have several guys coming back looking to get an opportunity to play at the next level. They're fighting to get into a camp and prove themselves.

"It's so hard to make it at the next level. You have to be special to be able to do that, and there's only a limited amount of spots open. There are hundreds of guys looking to make it, and we're hoping some of our guys can get into a camp and have a shot at it."

*Courtesy: JSU Sports Information (www.jsugamecocksports.com)

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