Sunday, February 24, 2019

Paladins look sharp in spring scrimmage

Thomas Gordon had four catches for 61 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown, in
Furman's Purple-White spring scrimmage Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman
An unofficial end to a wet, chilly month of Furman spring football practice was held on a wet, chilly day at Paladin Stadium Saturday afternoon. After going through typical practice sessions for a little more than an hour, the annual Purple-White scrimmage was a good bit shorter than in past years.

Furman coach Clay Hendrix said the scrimmage was limited because he didn't want the team to go through a whole lot of tackling on the next-to-last practice of the spring. Spring practice officially wraps up with a two-hour practice session Tuesday morning at Paladin Stadium.

The Paladins looked sharp during Saturday's scrimmage, especially for a spring practice. There were no turnovers offensively and seemingly no blown reads on either side of the ball.

"It's been a really productive spring," Hendrix said following Saturday's scrimmage. "We'll wrap up Tuesday, have some individual meetings with coaches and this time next week the players will be on spring break.
"When we come back, it's all about getting bigger, faster and stronger. We've got some good bodies and recruited well."

Spring practice has offered the first bit of competition to replace graduated starting quarterback Harris Roberts. Redshirt freshmen Darren Grainger and Hamp Sisson are battling for the job, while sophomore Jack Hardin has gotten many reps as well.

During Saturday's scrimmage, Hardin made the most of his chances going 4-for-4 for 55 yards. He also made the prettiest throw of the day on a rainbow toss to Thomas Gordon for a 33-yard touchdown off play action.

Sisson was 4-of-6 passing for 46 yards, while Grainger was 3-of-7 for 32 yards.

"I thought they both had a pretty good day, which is how it's kind of been every day," Hendrix said. "There's been a few growing pains like you'd expect, but they're at where they started (in the competition). They both have made significant progress.
"It's about like I thought it'd be. I would've been surprised if anybody distanced themselves from each other, based on spring practice."

Hendrix said Hardin's progressed nicely since suffering a torn labrum in last year's spring scrimmage.

"We feel good about all those guys. There's just a lot of work to be done between now and when we start practice again," Hendrix said. "That will be the key for them - the progress we make going forward.
"These quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs have got to continue throwing and catching and we can't be out there with them. I think Darren, Hamp and Jack are prepared to lead that group in the offseason stuff. I'd be shocked if that's not the case."

Gordon led the receivers Saturday with four catches for 61 yards, while Dejuan Bell had three receptions for 34 yards. Also offensively, Corey Watkins ran three times for 12 yards, including a four-yard touchdown, while Devin Wynn had 11 yards on three carries.

On a miserable day to kick, All-SoCon kicker Grayson Atkins was in midseason form. After hitting a 43-yard field goal, Atkins was wide left on one 53-yard attempt before connecting on his next attempt from 53 yards out. Atkins later had a 32-yard attempt bounce off the upright no good before making his final kick from 23 yards out.

What could prove to be just as beneficial as to what was going on between the hash marks Saturday, was what was going on along the sidelines. That's where a large group of young high school players got a first-hand look at how Furman football operates as they made Junior Day visits.

"We had an unbelievable crowd - well over 300 prospects here," Hendrix said. "We're excited about that part of the offseason where you're recruiting juniors."

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