Sam Frye and Harrison Davis admitted to a few nerves when they heard the news.
Mike Sellers, The Citadel’s All-American center, had resigned from the military school and would transfer to another program for his senior year.
That left Frye, a rising sophomore, as the likely starter for the Bulldogs’ football team. And it meant Davis, who redshirted as a freshman last year, would move from tackle to center as Frye’s competition.
Both players will be under pressure during today’s 1 p.m. spring game at Johnson Hagood Stadium, and next season as the Bulldogs try to translate last year’s 7-4 season into a run at a Southern Conference title and FCS playoff berth.
“I had a few butterflies, like anyone would have as a freshman,” admits Frye, a 5-10, 270-pounder from Charlotte. “But I know I’ve got to step up. All I know is I will come out and give it my best.”
Both players are used to living up to legacies. Frye’s older brother, Chris, played offensive line for The Citadel from 1990-91. Another brother, Orry, started on the line at FCS power Appalachian State.
Davis, a, 6-2, 250-pounder from Marietta, Ga., is the son of former NFL lineman John Davis, who played in three Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills.
Citadel coach Kevin Higgins is confident that, between the two of them, Frye and Davis can adequately replace Sellers, who is likely headed to South Carolina State or Bethune-Cookman to finish his career.
“It will be a battle between them,” Higgins said. “Sam is further ahead right now, just because he’s played the position and has experience. Harrison is a bigger body and will be a good player, but he’s just behind from a reps standpoint. They are both great kids and competitors, so between them both we will have a good center.”
Frye was Sellers’ backup last year and said he learned a lot from the Fort Dorchester High School product about playing center in the triple-option.
“I started out a little wobbly,” he said. “But Mike really helped me learn the offense. Now that we’re into spring ball, I can really see his help.”
Davis can turn to his father, who played every line position during his career at Georgia Tech and for eight years in the NFL.
“He plays a huge part as a mental coach for me,” Harrison said. “If we’re in a hotel room or something, we me might spend an hour going over basic steps. I can call him anytime, and he’s great with that.”
With Sellers gone and starting guard Keith Carter out rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon, Davis said the entire line has to step forward.
“Everybody has realized that with Mike gone, we need to have five leaders on the line instead of just Mike,” he said.
• Citadel players held a draft Thursday to determine the Blue and White teams for the spring game. Quarterbacks Ben Dupree and Aaron Miller were assigned to different teams, as were defensive linemen Derek Douglas and Bay Amrhein. Starting offensive guard Jim Knowles was the first pick of the draft.
• Five Bulldogs will play for both teams — tight end Alex Glover, reserve QBs Dane Anderson and Trey White, kicker Thomas Warren and defensive back Walker Smith.
• Rosters for today’s game are at http://blog.postandcourier.com/bulldog-bites/