At some point last season, Coastal Carolina football coach David Bennett looked over and saw 6-5, 225-pound backup quarterback Jamie Childers standing near him on the sideline, watching the Chanticleers' offense.
"I told our coaching staff, we are some coaching gurus," Bennett said recently. "We've got a guy like that, as big as Jamie is, runs a 4.60 40, the kind of athlete he is, and we've got him standing on the sidelines. We really are some coaching gurus."
Childers, a junior from Wando High School, won't be on the sidelines this season as Coastal Carolina tries to claim its first winning season since 2006. Of that much, Bennett is sure.
"He's too talented a guy to have sitting on the bench," said Bennett, who has a 50-29 record in seven seasons at Coastal. "That's why halfway through spring practice, we decided Jamie was too talented to be a
backup quarterback. We've got to get him on the field."
Tight end is the most obvious spot for a player of Childers' build, but Bennett doesn't want to put a limit on the former Wando quarterback.
"You just watch and see," Bennett said. "He's going to be in a lot of spots."
Childers played in nine games at quarterback and started three last season as the Chanticleers went 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big South.
He hit 27 of 53 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions, and ran 49 times for 219 yards and three scores. Against Towson, he completed 9 of 13 throws for 110 yards and a touchdown, and against VMI he went 5 for 5 for 38 yards and ran seven times for 54 yards and a score.
But with senior Zach MacDowall, who started his college career at Wake Forest, back as the starter at quarterback and South Carolina transfer Aramis Hillary in the fold, Bennett wants to get more than spot duty out of Childers this season.
An All-Lowcountry the starter at quarterback at Wando, Childers played at Hargrave Military Academy in 2006, then redshirted as a freshman at Coastal Carolina. In 2008, he was limited to six games after missing most of preseason practice due to a bout with viral meningitis.
Back at full strength, Childers lined up at tight end and hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from MacDowall in a recent scrimmage.
"Zach is the starter at quarterback and we've got Aramis now as the backup," Bennett said. "We'll have a quarterback package for Jamie, but you will see him in a lot of spots."
From 2004-06, Bennett's teams won 28 games and three Big South titles, earning the league's first playoff bid in 2006. That was an at-large berth, but for the first time this year, the Big South champion will receive an automatic bid to the expanded 20-team FCS playoffs.
That adds to the sense of urgency among the Chanticleers, who have gone 5-6, 6-6 and 5-6 the last three years.
"We've got to grow up and mature," said Bennett, who returns seven starters on offense and nine on defense. "But some things never change. You've got to have a great offensive line, a great defensive line and a great quarterback."
MacDowall certainly has room for improvement after hitting 55 percent of his throws for 1,664 yards and nine touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season, and the 6-1, 210-pound Hillary is sure to see the field, as well. On the offensive line, three starters return, including 6-4, 340-pound senior Seth Smalls of Berkeley High School and 6-6, 290-pound Bryan Brooks of Stratford High.
The defensive line returns all four starters, led by redshirt sophomore defensive end Quinton Davis, a preseason all-conference pick along with cornerback Josh Norman.
A difficult non-conference schedule includes the Sept. 4 season opener with West Virginia, home dates with Georgia Southern and Delaware State and visits to Towson and Richmond, ranked No. 6 in FCS preseason polls. But the Chants get Big South preseason favorite Liberty and rival Charleston Southern at home.
The Chants' Lowcountry ties include former Citadel player and assistant coach Maurice Drayton, who is assistant head coach and special teams coordinator; and offensive coordinator Kevin Brown, who played quarterback at Berkeley High School ... Freshman quarterback Cody Craig (Timberland HS) is likely to redshirt this season ... Senior LB E.J. Brown (Stratford) was second on the team in tackles last year (58) despite starting just three games ... Chad Hamilton (James Island) and Devin Taylor (Summerville) are freshmen linemen ... Senior WR Marquel Willis (Summerville/The Citadel) caught 14 passes last year.