NEWBERRY, S.C. - The Newberry College football team donned full pads for the first time in preseason camp Saturday, with all players from seniors to freshmen putting their best foot forward to earn their spot on the roster for the regular season opener against Valdosta State in three weeks' time.
Head Coach Zak Willis:
"The defense looked very good today, and they were dominant early. Our offense was sharp, but the defense was just outstanding today. I thought John Carnell (Hanahan) and Bryan Ehrlich (San Antonio, Texas) both played well at quarterback with the young guys and I think our future will be in good hands. Eric McCollom (Camden) made a very successful return to live action for the first time. Tharry Salley (Blackville) and Gerald Legree (Beaufort) ran hard, and I saw Will Newell (Irmo) make a lot of big plays."
Defensive Coordinator Todd Knight:
On newcomers who stood out: "I though Marcus Nelums (Columbia) is moving around really well and doing well on his pass rush stuff. The young kids in the secondary played very well today. Rahmell Lewis (Irmo) made a big play in the end zone to break up a touchdown and Harry Cabaniss (Greenville) made a great breakup on a deep ball. Jared Shaw (Fort Mill) played very well and I think he'll be an exceptional player for us down the road."
On the performance of the returning starters: "I'm happy to see that kind of performance from those guys, and it's expected from them. But you can't ignore that the offense was missing two starters on the line today, so we really should be doing what we did today and taking advantage of that. When those two guys are back in the mix, that will be a lot more competitive. If we can stand up to what our offense does, I feel we can stand up against anybody."
On things to improve upon: "We need to improve our consistency. Mental mistakes drive me crazy, but I think our effort was there. I was pleased with them just playing hard and running to the football. That can make up for some mental mistakes, but they still drive me crazy. I will not stand for it and they will disappear or somebody's playing time will disappear."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Varn:
On the performance of the newcomers: "A lot of new guys played and that was the plan today. We've got to see who's going to help us. Carnell's going to help us in some role once he learns the offense. Alkeem Sherman (Conway) and Lyndon Ingram (Spring Valley) have shown that they can fill a role at tailback and Timmy Boyd (Clover) could start at fullback. We also started two true freshmen in Chase Gamble (Dallas, N.C.) and Ben Hyder (Pickens) on the offensive line and we feel good that they got some reps and can fill in once the two returners come back."
On the returning players: "I liked what I saw today. I saw movement of the football, and that was what I was looking for. We did have some mistakes and some penalties that we've got to correct. I did see the tempo that we want to run the offense at and that was good. Our older guys made some catches and made some runs."
The team has Sunday off and will resume practice Monday.