Just wanted to check in before tonight's final scrimmage of the fall and share some leftovers and thoughts as fall camp draws near a close and preparation for Charleston Southern officially begins.
> Even though an official depth chart hasn't been released, I'm pretty sure the battle for all of the starting spots on this team have already been decided with the exception of the return men on kickoff and punt coverage. Coach Randy Shannon told reporters that special teams would be the primary focus of tonight's scrimmage at Greentree Practice Field, which will not be open to the public at all.
So, here's what I think the two deep will look like once the season gets going based on my conversations with coaches and players (remember JJ and Coop should both be considered starters, receivers will be doing a lot of rotating and the defensive ends are in the air because of injuries):
QB: Robert Marve | Jacory Harris
RB: Javarris James and Graig Cooper | Derron Thomas
FB: Patrick Hill | John Calhoun
FL: Khalil Jones | Sam Shields, Travis Benjamin, Jermaine McKenzie, Davon Johnson
SE: Kayne Farquharson | Aldarius Johnson, Laron Byrd
Slot: Leonard Hankerson | Benjamin, Thearon Collier
TE: Chris Zellner | Dedrick Epps, Richard Gordon
LT: Jason Fox | Tyrone Byrd | Ian Symonette
LG: Orlando Franklin | AJ Trump or Matt Pipho
C: Xavier Shannon | AJ Trump or Matt Pipho
RG: Joel Figueroa | Harland Gunn
RT: Reggie Youngblood | Chris Rutledge
RE: Eric Moncur | Steven Wesley (*could start if Moncur isn't practicing fully) | Marcus Robinson (3rd down)
DT: Antonio Dixon | Marcus Forston | Micanor Regis
DT: Joe Joseph | Dwayne Hendricks
LE: Allen Bailey | Adewale Ojomo (*could start if Bailey isn't ready) | Gavin Hardin
WLB: Colin McCarthy | Sean Spence | Kylan Robinson
MLB: Glenn Cook | Spencer Adkins | Romeo Davis
SLB: Darryl Sharpton | Arthur Brown | Jordan Futch
CB: Bruce Johnson | DeMarcus Van Dyke | Brandon Harris
CB: Chavez Grant | Carlos Armour
NICKEL: Grant (DVD moves outside) | Brandon Harris
DIME: Brandon Harris
FS: Randy Phillips | Joseph Nicholas | Ryan Hill
SS: Lovon Ponder | Anthony Reddick
> For those of you that read or missed my feature on Jermaine McKenzie, there is more I wanted to share on him that just wouldn't fit into the story for space reasons.
For starters, McKenzie told me he came dangerously close to being paralyzed, fracturing his C-2, C-5 and C-6 vertebrae. "If I would have broken my C-4, the doctor told me I would have been paralyzed. That's what I was told happened to Kevin Everett," McKenzie said.
McKenzie said before the accident he was extremely excited about the way he had been performing during 7-on-7 summer camps at UM and was building a special chemistry with Robert Marve, who is no longer one of his roommates. "I was kind of like Laron Byrd, tearing it up each day out there," McKenzie said. "I really thought I was going to help this team big time."
Instead, McKenzie said he was driven to tears when he came out of the tunnel with Marve before the season opener against Marshall. "All I can remember was feeling love," McKenzie said. "The fans really made me feel so much better. They kept saying 'Don't worry, you'll be back out there soon.' I know people say don't play for the fans, play for yourself, your teammates, your school. But I'll always be a fan of Canes fans for that day. I'll always play for them."
Receivers coach Aubrey Hill hasn't sounded overly enthusiastic about McKenzie like others have been about Byrd and Travis Benjamin, whom Hill said have stood out because of their work in the scrimmages. He said while McKenzie has improved with "his toughness and learning his ball place", he needs to be consistent "catching balls day in and day out."
As for Benjamin, whom our George Richards wrote about today, Hill said Sunday: "For whatever reason, he has progressed and when the lights are on and its a scrimmage like situation, he's been able to pass the test. And still, he has a long way to go. He's by no means a finished product. He's still a freshman. But at the same time, he's been able to show up and make some plays. Clearly from the scrimmages [he's been the most consistent guy]."
> By the way, on Sunday I saw linebacker Jordan Futch sporting a U on the back of his head and part of his new haircut. It doesn't surprise me considering Futch is such a die-hard Cane. I'll try to snap a picture of it for you next time.
> Also, for those of you looking for the audio interviews I post, we have been having a problem with our UM audio page. So, be sure to visit our Sports Audio page in the meantime.