VIDEO: Ken Sparks Interview
Sparks looks forward to the Eagles' sorting through position battles on the offensive line and everywhere defensively.
"Our number one priority is to begin to develop a two-deep," Sparks said. "Then we'll need to see who we can count on when the bullets start flying around. We'll need guys that we can trust and do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it. Then we're looking for guys who have high buy in.
"We've got a lot of questions on the offensive line. I think there's a ton of talent there, it's just a matter of seeing who will rise to the top. Then defensively, there's some sorting to do all across the board. There's a lot of potential, they just haven't done it yet."
Carson-Newman players went through their first round of meetings Wednesday. They open practice Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
As the Eagles break camp, Sparks also has an eye on the Eagles' theme, me 2 We 4 HE.
"I think in anything that we do, we have to have 'Me's' who are willing to develop with others into 'We's.'" Sparks said. "The strong the We, the stronger we can make something happen and that's a positive for all of us. Then of course, there's the HE. That's the only power that matters, and really, it's the only power that can get anything done. (Christ) is the motivation for the whole thing, it's the glue and what it takes to make sense. We've got a pretty good product there if I'm willing to give all that I have for the sake of us for His glory."
The theme is rooted in Philippians 1:27 – "Just one thing: live your (me) life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (He), so (We) will be seen standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind, working side-by-side (we) for the gospel (he)."
Carson-Newman will be replacing first team All-SAC quarterback De'Andre Thomas, Harlon Hill Trophy Finalist Damian Baker at running back and Rimington Trophy-winning center Derek Evans. Defensively, the Eagles return nine players with starting experience.
"I want us to be men of faith so that we can have some endurance," Sparks said. "When our faith is tested, we can become men a mature character ready for anything. That certainly includes football and it certainly includes life."
Carson-Newman kicks off the season Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN 3 against a Humboldt State team who will likely be nationally ranked.