Thursday, August 23, 2018

Depth chart revealed after final scrimmage

Furman kicker Grayson Atkins is likely to handle punting and
kickoff duties as well this season. Photo courtesy of Furman.
The Furman football team wrapped up preseason portion of its practice schedule with an officiated, no-tackling scrimmage Wednesday at Paladin Stadium. The Paladins are now in game-week preparation in advance of their opener at Clemson on Sept. 1.

Head coach Clay Hendrix was pleased overall with what was accomplished in camp. Perhaps most importantly, the Paladins made it through "fairly healthy" according to Hendrix.

"Even day that we've been allowed to wear shoulder pads, we've worn them except once. And every day we wear shoulder pads we do inside drills, so it's been a physical camp," Hendrix said. "I think we're in great condition.
"We're not as fresh as we need to be, but if you're fresh and not in very good shape it doesn't matter. We will be fresh when we get ready to go play."

Following the short scrimmage, which was more situation-oriented as opposed to game-like, Hendrix announced the depth chart. The question many are wondering is still sort of in question as senior Harris Roberts and redshirt freshman JeMar Lincoln are listed with the "or" designation between them as the starting quarterback.

Obviously, Roberts has the most experience at quarterback. Backing up P.J. Blazejowski last season, Roberts completed 9-of-13 passes for 110 yards and ran five times for 71 yards. Roberts' status has been day-to-day though as he recovers from an hand injury suffered last week in practice. Roberts didn't participate in Wednesday's scrimmage.

Lincoln was part of Wednesday's long play of the scrimmage when he faked a pitch to the left, rolled to his right, and hit freshman Dejuan Bell on a screen pass that went for a gain of about 35 yards.

Freshmen Darren Grainger and Hamp Sisson are listed third and fourth, respectively, on the QB depth chart. Sisson has caught the attention of coaches with an impressive preseason camp. With a 6-foot-4 frame, Grainger stands out on the field. His quick acceleration and sharp, hard passes are also noticeable.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach George Quarles said the competition is still open. Even when it's closed, there likely will be opportunities for others to contribute.

"If you had to play a game right now, we'd have to play several (quarterbacks). It wouldn't be just one," Quarles said following Wednesday's scrimmage. "You're waiting for one guy to just say 'hey, it's mine. I'm taking over.' So far that hasn't happened, but all of them do something really well. You've got to find that guy that does the most things well.
"We're really happy with them and moving in the right direction. ... The style we want to play may require you to play more than one."

Atkins' duties likely to grow
After earning Southern Conference All-Freshman team honors at placekicker last season, Grayson Atkins is likely to have a much bigger role this season. In addition to kicker, Atkins is listed atop the depth chart at punter and kickoff.

On the first drive of Wednesday's scrimmage, Atkins got off a high punt of 50-plus yards that was fair caught at the six-yard line. Later, Atkins boomed a 50-yard field goal with plenty to spare. During two-minute drills in which the kicking team rushed onto the field and quickly snapped the ball, Atkins missed wide left on a 52-yard attempt and made a 48-yarder to wrap up the scrimmage.

"If we played tomorrow, he'd do everything and I'd feel good about it," Hendrix said. "Grayson's been really solid for us."

The lone other score of the scrimmage came on a a six-yard touchdown run by Devin Wynn on an option pitch from Lincoln. Lincoln then threw to tight end Jake Walker for the "two-point" conversion.

Wynn and Bell are listed as the kickoff returners, while Clemson transfer Amir Trapp is expected to start at punt returner and right cornerback. Wynn is also penciled in as the No. 2 tailback behind starter Darius Morehead.

Depth chart notes
In addition to Walker at tight end, the rest of the starting offensive front - per the current depth chart is left tackle Bo Layton, left guard Jacob Conrad, center Reed Kroeber, right guard Jordan Harris and right tackle Andy Godwin. ... Cam Burnette is listed as the starting split end receiver.

Nine of last year's starters return on defense, although Chinedu Okonya - who had a team-high 4.5 sacks last season - and Dru Seabrook - who had two sacks in limited action in 2017 - are listed with the "or" designation as starting defensive end. ... Junior Donavan Perryman "or" freshman Braden Gilby should start at middle linebacker. ... Jordan Willis, who posted 33 tackles as a reserve last season, is penciled in as the starting spur.

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