Point wraps up Spring practice with scrimmage

Published 2:26 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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The Point Skyhawks wrapped up spring practice with a scrimmage on Saturday with several position battles still up for grabs. 

The quarterback battle heading into the spring was one of the most important aspects of spring practice, but the Skyhawks are still left with some uncertainty at that position heading into fall camp. 

Payton Allen and North Alabama transfer Brayson Edwards were the two quarterbacks to take the field during Saturday’s scrimmage and they each had an up-and-down performance as the offense struggled. Allen finished with two interceptions on the day while Edwards finished with one interception. 

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“It will be wide open through the rest of the fall camp,” Point coach Trevor Zeiders said. “Saw some good things from both Payton and Brayson, they both grew a lot. Saturday was not indicative of the springs they actually have had. I also felt that they were hurt a little bit by some of the receivers.” 

The quarterback battle heading into fall camp will have several other players in the mix. Mitch Gossett started the most games for Point last season, but he was unavailable during the Spring because he also competes on the lacrosse team. 

Samir Wylie, who was a true freshman last season, is one of the more exciting quarterback prospects on the team, but a shoulder surgery caused him to miss spring practice. Wylie, Gossett and some incoming freshmen will be a part of the quarterback battle during fall camp. 

“We thought he had grown the most out of any of our quarterbacks in the fall,” Zeiders said about Wylie. 

The wideout position was one of the more uncertain positions heading into the Spring. Emery Bryant finished with just under 1,000 yards receiving last season, losing him to graduation leaves a large hole to fill on the offense. 

Kareem Keye finished with 429 yards receiving as a freshman and is the most likely option to fill some of Bryant’s production, but Keye suffered a broken leg at the start of Spring practices. With Keye out, several other young wideouts got the opportunity to gain some playing time. 

“There were several guys that, in his absence, stepped up between Brandon Washington, Shawn Jones and Dontavious Ware,” Zeiders said. “I thought they did some really nice things.” 

The offensive line is another area of uncertainty for the Skyhawks. Point lost several players before the Spring, and the position is set to have several young players vying for playing time. 

“Unfortunately, we’re a little light up front right now,” Zeiders said. “There’s going to be a lot of fall camp battles in regards to the freshmen.” 

Even with some uncertainty on the offensive line, some players have started to stand out. Sammy Williams impressed the coaches during the spring at center while freshman Riley Mcleod and Sterling Caldwell have taken major strides. 

“Sammy was dealing with a knee [injury] and some other stuff last year,” Zeiders said. “He tried to go in two games for us, and it wasn’t working for him. We redshirted, and now this year he’s going to be a lot more involved.” 

While several positions are still completely unknown, the spring has completely solidified other positions. Nicholas Marien is set to be the starting tight end going into the season, and several positions on the defensive side are locked down.

Caleb Wade was a leader for the Skyhawks in the secondary last season. Wade came away with an interception on Saturday, and the team expects him to be a leader on the defense this season. 

Kemorion Larkin was one of the best linebackers in the NAIA last season. Larkin along with Wade and Cortez Thomas are set to be the headliners for Point’s defense. 

“Caleb Wade needs to be a leader. Kemorion Larkin needs to be a leader,” Zeiders said. “Those guys need to step up and start telling everybody what they expect.” 

Spring practice is for position battles as much as anything else, but another aspect of spring practice is fixing the mental issues. Dead-ball penalties hurt the Skyhawks last season, and it is an issue that the coaching staff is still working to remedy. 

“We still have to learn to be more mentally disciplined,” Zeiders said. “We’re still letting our emotions get the best of us too many times, and we have to learn to be a smarter team that understands situations.” 

Spring practices do not provide complete certainty, but it does give the Skyhawks a good starting point and room for improvement heading into fall camp. 

“As we continue from here, we still have to get bigger, faster and stronger,” Zeiders said. “We’ve got to continue to work in the weight room, become better conditioned physically and mentally. We have to grow closer as a team.”