Spring football practice gets under way for Skyhawks
As March Madness gets under way this week, most of the Skyhawks will relive their tournament setback or at least fill in their bracket and root for the favorite team.
Craig won’t have time for basketball or March Madness because he will be in a battle for a starting cornerback job on the UT Martin football team. His battle began Monday afternoon when spring practice got under way. UT Martin head football coach Jason Simpson said his team will practice, in addition to Monday, today (Tuesday), Thursday and Friday morning this week. The schedule could change should it rain. The Skyhawks have 28 days to get in 15 practices. Practices next week are set for Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday morning at 9. Simpson said Saturday practices will typically include a mix of drills and scrimmages.
Craig, a rising junior, is among five players battling for the cornerback position. Also trying to secure the starting job is Clarence Pendleton, Anthony Ivy, Markei Guy and junior college transfer Jimmy Jones. Of the five players, Pendleton played in all 11 games and recorded 41 tackles in 2007. Ivy played in nine games last season and made a dozen tackles, while Guy played in 10 games and made 13 tackles. Craig played in 10 games and had 10 solo tackles and 14 total tackles.
The battles won’t be limited to the cornerback position this spring. Simpson said he expects plenty of competition for the vacant middle linebacker spot and for the starting tailback position.
Josh Yarbrough’s departure at middle linebacker leaves newcomer Jamar Lawrence, Josh Bey, Josh Frohock, Adrian Pruitt and junior college transfer Brent Acker to battle it out. Yarbrough, an All-OVC selection, led the Skyhawks with 91 total tackles.
The Skyhawks have a big vacancy to fill on the offensive side of the ball and that’s at tailback where Don Chapman rewrote the Skyhawks’ record book for the past four years.
Simpson and fans had a chance to see what the future might hold when the Skyhawks pounded Murray State in the season finale back in November. Freshman Trace McDermott rushed 13 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore Brandyn Young rushed eight times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Miguel Barnes, a 5-11, 200-pound transfer from the University of Memphis, will also compete for the starting tailback job.
While Chapman’s departure is a key loss for the Skyhawks, Simpson said UT Martin must also replace two offensive linemen — left tackle Adam Hansen and center Billy Krause — and return specialist Jessie Burton.
The Skyhawks will wrap up the 2008 spring practice with the annual Blue and White scrimmage set for 11 a.m., Saturday, April 12, in Hardy M. Graham Stadium.