There’s nothing quite like starting spring football practice two days after National Signing Day under windy and chilly conditions, but that’s exactly what the Charleston Southern Buccaneers did Friday afternoon.
Head coach Jamey Chadwell put his team through spring drills in February a year ago and the Buccaneers ended up having the best season in school history — a 10-3 record, Big South Conference title and a top 10 final ranking in the national FCS polls.
“It benefitted us last year, getting through it, and our March through the summer period was the best we’ve ever had, then we had a good year,” said Chadwell, who is 28-10 in three seasons at CSU. “Our guys are looking forward to it. These kids listen to whatever you tell them so we’re telling them everyone in the country is doing this now.”
Junior linebacker Bobby Ruff, who will be competing for a starting spot in 2016, says the focus this month will be preparing for an FCS national championship run.
“We have a lot of guys coming back, but they say you are only as good as your last game and we lost our last game so we come back with a lot to prove,” Ruff said. “Last season is over with and we’re focused on 2016 and getting prepared for next fall.”
Chadwell says the primary purpose of spring practice is to take a look at mid-year enrollees and returning players who redshirted last season. Most of CSU’s 2015 signing class did redshirt in the fall.
“We have to see if some of the guys that we’ve added or that we redshirted can play or not,” Chadwell said. “We know who we have in terms of guys who played or contributed last year so we feel pretty good there. It’s really about these new guys and figuring out their roles and how they can help us in the fall. Most of our team will be determined over the next month, in terms of who is going to play.”
One player who will be looked upon to contribute early is quarterback Robert Mitchell, who comes to CSU from Blinn Junior College in Texas. Mitchell will get a long look over the next month, along with returning quarterback Kyle Copeland and a pair of redshirt freshmen — London Johnson and Shane Bucenell.
“We signed Robert to compete for the position and we feel really good about the two guys we redshirted,” Chadwell said. “Going in, Kyle is the only one with experience. If we played tomorrow, he would be the starter. What we have to do this spring is get everyone ready to play. We had some injuries at quarterback last year and we ran short a few times. We have to have enough ready to play this fall.”