Citadel Brandon Berry

Freshman fullback Brandon Berry has impressed during The Citadel's preseason practice. (Marjorie Maxon/Special to The Post and Courier)

Replacing All-American fullback Tyler Renew was always going to be one of the biggest challenges for The Citadel's football team in 2017.

That challenge grew even more difficult when heir apparent Evan McField tore the ACL in his knee during spring practice.

Almost two weeks into the Bulldogs' preseason practice, some answers at fullback are taking shape. Converted quarterback Brandon Rainey continues to make progress and freshman Brandon Berry is showing signs that he could help, as well.

Berry, listed at 5-11 and 227 pounds, has caught the eye of coach Brent Thompson over the last week or so, turning in some impressive runs during last weekend's scrimmage.

"Brandon is a guy that we've put on a little bit of a fast track," Thompson said after the scrimmage. "He's 235 pounds and runs hard. He doesn't know exactly what he's doing yet, but he's a load once he gets going in the right direction. He and Rainey are two guys we're really going to count on."

Berry rushed for 1,103 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior at Wakulla (Fla.) High School, operating out of a shotgun, one-back offense. The transition to B-back in the triple-option will be key for Berry.

"The biggest thing he has to do here is deal with the mesh track we run," Thompson said. "You can't vary too far off that track. If you do, you'll get a fumble, and that's where the biggest turnovers take place."

Quarterback Dominique Allen said Berry reminds him of former Citadel fullback Isiaha Smith, a 5-10, 242-pounder who ran for 1,154 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore in 2014 and 2015.

"I think he's going to be a great runner," Allen said. "He reminds me of Isiaha in how hard he is to tackle. He's not afraid of contact and he'll run somebody over in a heartbeat.

"As soon as we can get his footwork together and get him on the right path, he'll be a great player for us."


• Defensive back Curt Nixon, a 6-0, 186-pound sophomore, has made the switch to receiver and is doing well, Thompson said.

"He's providing us some good depth over there," Thompson said. "Between Raleigh Webb, Josh LeBlanc, Logan Bailey and Curt, I think we've got at least four good receivers over there."

With Nixon's move to offense, freshman Jay Howard, recruited as an athlete, has moved to defense, Thompson said. Receiver Dijon Profit, a redshirt freshman from Goose Creek, missed Tuesday's practice after tweaking an ankle during Saturday's scrimmage.

• The Citadel basketball team, on a trip to the Dominican Republic, lost its first game, 135-124, to the Dominican U-19 national team. Junior guard Quayson Williams scored 28 points, and junior guard Matt Frierson had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Freshman Kaiden Rice scored 22 points, while SoCon freshman of the year Preston Parks added 10 points and eight assists. Forward Zane Najdawi had 10 points and eight rebounds. Chris Duarte, a top 100 national recruit committed to Western Kentucky, scored 27 points for the Dominican team.

"I'm very proud of how our guys competed," coach Duggar Baucom said. "We saw a lot of bright spots out there. It was good to see them compete in adverse conditions against a bigger, physical team with a lot of experience. Overall, I'm pleased. We've come a long way over the course of our training camp."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-967-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC