After several months of cold offseason away from the limelight, spring college football practice offers players a chance to get out in the warmer air and show off the gains they made during basketball season.
More than a few locals from The Herald’s coverage area have something to gain or prove from 2018 spring college football practice. Here are 10 that could enhance their situation ahead of the 2018 fall season:
Corey Seargent, East Carolina - Every one of Seargent’s defensive teammates at ECU has something to prove this spring after the Pirates’ 2017 season was a defensive disaster. Seargent, the former Northwestern Trojan secondary standout, was largely helpless to stop the scoring as injuries nagged him most of his junior year. The Pirates brought in a pair of junior college transfers that should push Seargent, but if he remains healthy he should maintain his hold on the starting boundary corner position.
2017 stats: Seargent played in seven games, making 19 tackles and breaking up two passes.
Nick McCloud, N.C. State - Another defensive back from Rock Hill, South Pointe’s McCloud started seven games last season but was also banged up, which had him in and out of the lineup during different stretches. The Wolfpack’s secondary graduated one starter, Mike Stevens, and is converting two receivers to corner, so McCloud will be relied on as not only a starter but a group leader. His take-charge attitude makes him a natural for that role, especially if his level of play backs up his talk.
2017 stats: McCloud appeared in 13 games, starting seven. He made 34 tackles and an interception in the Wolfpack’s bowl game. McCloud also broke up seven passes, second best on the team.
Derion Kendrick, Clemson - Kendrick enrolled early at Clemson to get acclimated to college life, but to also try to nose ahead of some of his classmates in the playing time race. Clemson returns great receiver depth, despite losing Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud early to the NFL Draft, so the spring will be crucial for him to make his mark early if he wants to emerge from the crowd this fall.
2017 stats: N/A
Logan Rudolph, Clemson - Rudolph’s freshman season was cut short after just two games when he finally succumbed to a shoulder injury that had bothered him since high school. With that problem behind him, the redshirt freshman can focus on nailing down playing time with either the linebackers or defensive line. It’s not totally clear yet where Rudolph fits, especially considering Clemson’s immense defensive line depth. This spring will be key for Rudolph and Clemson defensive coaches to figure out how best to use the tough and talented hard-worker from Northwestern.
2017 stats: Rudolph played 26 snaps in two games, making three tackles, including one for a loss.
Jerry Howard, Georgia Tech - Howard was Georgia Tech’s sixth-leading rusher as a true freshman, so he obviously made a positive impression early on in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets, who run the ball heavily out of an option offense, return four of the five ball-carriers that finished ahead of Howard in yardage, but only one of them is a B-back, the position that Howard plays. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has said before that he likes how Howard hits the hole, but it’s up to the former Northwestern Trojan whether he rises in the depth chart this spring, given there is plenty of competition for playing time.
2017 stats: Howard appeared in nine games, with 23 carries for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry.
Nicolas Sciba, Wake Forest - Demon Deacons defensive back Jessie Bates III decided to leave for the NFL Draft, which left a spot open on Wake Forest’s roster and allowed Sciba to enroll early. Redshirt senior kicker Mike Weaver is out of eligibility, so Sciba, the Clover Blue Eagles kicking standoutm gets the chance to compete for the starting kicking job with a few other candidates.
2017 stats: N/A
Greg Ruff, Newberry - Nothing has ever come easily to Ruff on a football field, mainly because of his 5-foot-9 height. But the former South Pointe Stallion has always taken advantage of his opportunities, last fall proving no exception when the redshirt freshman QB forced his way into the QB picture with sophomore Nick Jones. Newberry has a new offensive coordinator, Todd Varn, so it’s unclear how he’ll view Ruff’s unique skills and if Ruff will get a true chance to win the starting gig this spring.
2017 stats: Ruff ran for 446 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 51-of-89 passses for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Donavan Perryman and Ryan DeLuca, Furman - Perryman, the sophomore linebacker from Rock Hill High, finished the 2017 season with a surge, blocking an extra point that proved game-deciding in the Paladins’ FCS playoff win over Elon. He started in the Paladins’ spring game Feb. 24. Perryman was a positive character and strong leader for the Bearcats and there is no reason to believe he won’t grow into the same kind of player at Furman. Likewise for former Fort Mill Yellow Jacket Ryan DeLuca, who was the leading receiver in the Paladins’ spring game last week and looks to be carving out more playing time after starting a couple of games last season as a true freshman.
2017 stats: Perryman appeared in 13 games, making 22 tackles with 3.5 for a loss. He also had 1.5 sacks and blocked a kick. DeLuca played in 13 games, catching six passes and running the ball six times.
Gage Moloney, James Madison - Moloney, the former Northwestern Trojan and South Carolina Mr. Football, redshirted last season but begins 2018 in a three-way race for the Dukes’ starting QB job, according to the Daily News-Record’s Greg Madia. JMU’s standout QB Bryan Schor is gone and Moloney figures to get a shot this spring to take the over the reigns. He’ll compete with Pitt transfer Ben DiNucci and Schor’s backup, Cole Johnson, for the job.
2017 stats: N/A