Kicking off the Kermit Era
The Delaware State University football team was back in action April 1 for the first time since last November. The Hornets had their first spring practice – although the weather felt more like Seattle in December, cold, wet and overcast.
This was the Hornets’ first official practice under new Head Coach Kermit Blount, who is taking over this year from Al Lavan. Blount came to DSU after spending the past 16 years at Winston-Salem State in North Carolina.
First practice was fairly easy for the players – no pads and very light contact – and was mainly dedicated to getting the guys lined up right, particularly for the offense. The Hornets lined up mostly in a two-back, three-receiver look.
Coach Blount has said, “As far as I’m concerned, everyone is fighting for a job.”
With that said, junior quarterback Nick Elko, the most experienced signal-caller on the squad, was taking the snaps with the first unit.
The highlight of the first practice was watching the defensive backs go head-to-head with the wide receivers. The receiver position is one of the Hornets’ big strengths this year, returning four experienced contributors at the wideout spots – Justin Wilson, Donnell Dixon, Travis Tarpley and Darius Jackson – plus tight end Ryan Langdon.
In the receivers vs. DBs drill, Wilson, the first team all-MEAC performer and school record-holder for catches in a season, was the most impressive, using his speed to blow by the DBs. When Wilson runs a fly pattern, if he gets off the line, he’s going to be open; he’s that fast.
Langdon looked like the most improved of the receivers, showing off good speed down the field for a TE. Dixon specializes in square-ins across the middle and should find a role if he can consistently make catches in that area.
Tarpley may be the quickest of the receivers and will certainly be used to return kickoffs, replacing departed senior Larrone Moore in that area.
While the offense had to deal with a lot of instruction, the defense got to have some fun. In training camps, the defense is usually ahead of the offense anyway, since defensive players have less intricate assignments and play more on instinct.
The DBs did plenty of trash-talking in 7-on-7 drills and 1-on-1s against the receivers. The end of practice was particularly fun for the defensive players as they got to work on turning turnovers into touchdowns. The coaches would throw a ball up in the air and all 11 guys would have to work on forming the wall to lead the ballcarrier into the endzone. Senior middle linebacker Brandon Harvey is the guy the defense will look towards to fill the leadership hole left by departed leading tackler and all-MEAC defensive tackle Andre Caroll.
The two-week spring camp will wrap up on Saturday, April 16, with the Red vs. White scrimmage at Alumni Stadium in Dover.