VIDEO: Nick Reveiz Interview
Carson-Newman's linebackers are largely the same group they were a year ago, albeit with a year's worth of experience under their belts.
Preseason first team All-SAC selection and the team's leading returning tackler Sha'Heem Stupart (Taylors, S.C.) is back as is Temoris Coats (Greenwood, S.C.), who made 60 stops a year ago to go along with 3.5 behind the line of scrimmage.
"It's always nice when you can get a spring practice period with several returners," Reveiz said. "We've seen guys have some gains in the weight room. I'm eager to see these guys work through camp and get to put on pads. You can look pretty and be great in seven-on-seven. But you have to be able to put on the pads and tackle, and as coach Sparks says, you have to be able to block and tackle and our linebackers certainly need to be able to do the latter."
Stupart led C-N in tackles on five occasions and produced a team-best four 10- tackle games. Stupart's career high of 11 tackles happened three times (Catawba, Newberry and at then No. 21 Wingate). He picked off a pass for the first time in his career against Shorter and also recovered a fumble against the Hawks. The Eagles were 5-1 when he had at least eight tackles and 4-1 when he had at least 10.
Coats played in all 12 games for the Eagles while starting five. He had his pick against Mars Hill (9/26) in a win over the Lions. He turned in a career high nine tackles in the win over the Lions before topping that with 10 tackles against Brevard (10/10). He had at least seven tackles in four games.
The position group does lose Brandon Staton (Barnwell, S.C.), who moves to the defensive line, but Jarvis Green (Oviedo, Fla.), Lane Bloom (Maryville, Tenn.), De'Antoine Cammons (Carrolton, Ga.) all saw significant playing time last year, while Antonio Henderson (Palmetto, Fla.) took a redshirt year, but has a year in the system. Reveiz thinks all have the potential to shake up the depth chart and make an impact. .
"We've got a lot of guys who are competing, and I think it will be a pretty stout battle once we get in fall camp," Reveiz said. "I just want to see day in, day out, who executes their responsibilities at a consistent rate."
Reveiz pointed to Ervin Nard, Thomas Brown and Tafario McCrackon as newcomers who could make a significant impact.
Nard had 250 tackles in his career at Ware County High School in Waycross, Ga. McCrackon, a 6-1, 230-pound tank, has three years of eligibility remaining after averaging 10.5 tackles per game at Northland Community College last season. Brown is a midyear transfer.
"We will need to see leaders out of our linebackers," Reveiz said. "These are players that I hope understand our defense from the front to the back. They know where the linemen in front of them are supposed to be, and they know where the secondary behind them is supposed to be. They will go a long way in making sure that we are in the right spots before the ball is snapped"
Carson-Newman football's position previews resume Sunday with C-N's quarterbacks and assistant coach Brock Pursley.