Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville numbers up for spring football

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team had a lively first week of spring practice, and a lot of players by Jacksonville standards. Over 60 players participated and if those numbers hold, that could mean a little more depth than the Red Devils have enjoyed the last several seasons.

One position that seems to have lots of depth is the quarterback position. Six players have taken snaps in practice, and all have played well.

“We’ve never had this many kids show real promise at quarterback,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “Of course you can’t have six quarterbacks, but it’s nice to know you’ve got some depth.”

Kevin Richardson is the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position. He showed his first real promise during summer team camp at ASU-Jonesboro last year, and had worked his way into sharing starting quarterback duties with departed Tirrell Brown by the end of last season.

Brown missed that camp for AAU basketball. Richardson ran the team well, as did his backup Aaron Smith, who is also battling for the job this year.

“Aaron has done some nice things for us so far too,” Russell said. “Kevin is the one who you’d think would be poised to step in, but the job isn’t won right now. K-Rich is working hard and doing all the right things though. His throwing mechanics are getting better and better.”

Jacksonville had a large senior class last year and played mostly seniors. Even some of the upperclassmen have limited varsity experience. That means spring practice this year again focused largely on teaching the system.

“All practice this year has been primarily focused on offense,” Russell said. “Getting these younger guys and less experienced guys to catch on to what we’re doing is priority. We had a really good practice today (Monday). They’re eager to learn. Just look out there now.”
Russell motioned to the 12 to 15 players still on the practice field running routes or getting tips from position coaches.

“That’s what this group has been like and that’s how I hope it stays. That’s the kind of group that makes you love being out here.”