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April 2, 2013

Stressing fundamentals, Golden Eagles open Spring Drills Tuesday


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Two new assistant coaches, one new challenger for the quarterback position, one potentially key position change and an abnormally large list of 32 returning starters are some of the ingredients that will be in the mix when the Tennessee Tech football team opens spring drills Tuesday afternoon on Overall Field.

The most important aspect of the month-long drills, according to seventh-year head coach Watson Brown, will be teaching fundamentals and improving each player’s understanding of the system and skills.

“Our goals for the spring never change,” Brown said. “We want to make sure we have the right guys in the right positions, and we want to teach and develop their fundamentals.

“We don’t have to worry about game plans in the spring, so we can spend so much more time working with each player,” he said “We work to get each kid better, and his knowledge of the game better.”

Brown’s coaching staff has two new members who will be working with the players. Dewayne Alexander will coach the offensive linemen, while Donn Landholm will work with the inside linebackers and serve as special teams coordinator.

The spring roster will feature just one new names, with the addition of quarterback Trent Thompson who enrolled at TTU in January and will go through his first action with the team. A 6-foot-3, left-handed quarterback, Thompson led McEachern (Ga.) High School, the No. 1-ranked team in Georgia’s largest classification, to a 10-2 season in 2011 as a senior.

He will provide a healthy challenge to returning starter Darian Stone, who took over the role for the final four games of the season for injured Tre Lamb. Stone rushed for 497 yards and passed for 752 over the final four contests as a starter, averaging 124.2 per game on the ground and 188 per game through the air.

Also in the mix at quarterback this spring will be redshirt freshman Jared Davis and sophomore Matt Hamby.

Brown said the team heads into spring drills with only one position change, but could see more as the sessions unfold. The one change could be a huge one, though, as runningback/receiver Doug Page moves to inside linebacker. Page ranked second on the team with nine touchdowns last season, including eight rushing scores as the team’s go-to back in goal-line situations.

Page’s move doesn’t leave the Golden Eagles light in the ball carrier department, with the return of Bud Golden, Stephen Bush and Radir Annor, among others.

They are among the 69 players on the spring roster who return from the fall, including 55 who saw action. Because the team battled through so many injuries, Tech may boast the largest number of returning starters in the nation – 32 players are in spring drills after starting at some point in 2012.

The Golden Eagles will go through 15 spring practice sessions, weather permitting, with the team getting into Tucker Stadium Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m. for scrimmages. The annual Purple/Gold Scrimmage is set for Saturday, April 20, one day before the team’s annual awards dinner on Sunday, April 21. The final scrimmage will take place Friday, April 26, to close the books on sprig drills.

NCAA Division I football programs are permitted to conduct 15 practices during the off-season. The 15 practices must be held during a period of 34-continuous calendar days. The first three practices of the spring are non-contact with players wearing helmets and shorts.