Offense: Five To Watch
When the Tigers kick off spring practice, there will be numerous position-specific storylines unfolding on both sides of the ball. Here are five players to keep an eye on for Chad Morris' offense.
Cole Stoudt, quarterback
It will be a three-way battle, for sure. But though the coaches won't frame it this way, the job is surely Stoudt's to lose. He's put in his time for three years, knows the offense inside and out, and now he needs to grab his chance, execute and lead. If he doesn't, then there are good reasons for the coaches to look to Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson. Stoudt's numbers as a runner are probably more important than his passing stats this spring. Chad Morris wants to run the quarterback more, not less, and he'll be looking to see who can get it done.
Kyrin Priester, wide receiver
With a season of prep school experience under his belt and the versatility to play any of the three wideout positions, Priester could have an early edge on fellow January enrollees Artavis Scott and Demarre Kitt. Before it was learned last August that Priester would need to attend Fork Union, position coach Jeff Scott described him as the most 'college-ready' of the Tigers' incoming freshman receivers.
Wayne Gallman, running back
Gallman is a player who can transform and energize the competition at running back, if he ends up pushing veterans Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard and C.J. Davidson at the top of the depth chart. The players currently in the stable offer a variety of styles and body types, and both Gallman and walk-on Kurt Fleming will get a chance to show what they can to provide a reliable inside running punch to complement the versatile Brooks and speedy Davidson.
Joe Gore, offensive tackle
The coaches keep talking about Gore being a player ready to take the next step as a consistent, every-down contributor. To get on the field at right tackle, he'll have to beat out Shaq Anthony, who has an edge in experience, and Eric Mac Lain, who's as hungry for playing time as anyone on the roster. Cross-training has given the Tigers flexibility and mix-and-match options on the offensive front. Gore is just one of many with an opportunity to take the next step.
Jay Jay McCullough, tight end
McCullough is a bit like Vic Beasley two years ago - a premier athlete without a clearly-defined role. The Tigers' roster is crowded at tight end, with Jordan Leggett pushing Sam Cooper and Stanton Seckinger for the top spot, and two of ESPN's top three freshman tight ends - Milan Richard and Cannon Smith - arriving this summer. This spring will provide McCullough's best opportunity to make himself into a mainstay. Where he lines up will tell a lot about what the coaches think about his long-term potential as a difference-maker.