Courtesy of Tennessee State Athletics
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State football team will wrap up its spring practice schedule on Saturday afternoon as they are set to host their annual Blue vs. White game at Hale Stadium. The team will begin stretch and warmup at 2:45 p.m. followed by the on-field action starting at 3:10 p.m. Admission to the game is free.
The game will showcase the offense against the defense and will feature scrimmage-type situations, 7-on-7, individual drills, a short halftime, followed by more on-field action. The offense will be in white, while the defense will be in Blue.
With 13 practices under their belts and a walkthrough remaining, there is a lot that TSU fans should keep their eye on as the spring game rapidly approaches.
Despite losing some key players on the defensive side of the ball to graduation and the transfer portal, Brandon Fisher‘s defense has not shown any sign of a slump as the Tiger defense has been swarming to the ball and making great plays all spring.
The TSU defense will be led by possibly the best linebacking core in the FCS, as James Greenmakes his return to the middle after missing last season with an injury, along with K’Vaughan Popewho earned All-OVC Second Team honors a season ago. The final piece in the middle will be Monroe Beard III who transferred in from Arkansas Pine Bluff for spring ball. Beard has made an immediate impact, playing both on the outside and in the middle. The trio of backers has combined for 108 career games and 353 tackles.
Logan McGraw has been productive as a backup linebacker and on special teams and will look to get in the rotation, along with Ken Andrews and Micah Gay.
With JJ Holloman gone and preparing for the NFL Draft, TSU will look for its next No. 1 receiver, and redshirt sophomore Karate Brenson has made quite the case this spring to slide into that role. At 6’2″ 217, Brenson has shown his ability to go up and grab contested catches, while also showcasing his speed and footwork. The Ball State transfer was second on the team last year with 25 receptions for 329 yards and a score.
Return specialist and wide receiver Dayron Johnson has made his return to the field after missing last season with an injury, and he is another player to watch in the WR room. Canen Adrian, who just arrived as a transfer from Blinn has had a solid spring, seeing time in the slot and as a return man. Adrian has shown his speed and shifty playmaking ability, while also showcasing his strong hands and his ability to hang onto the ball in traffic. Jahee Blake will look to step up this season on the outside with his 6″5′ 215-pound frame, along with John Roberts IV and Da’Shon Davis in the slot.
The Tigers should have no issues finding ball carriers, as they have a slew of talented backs in the running back room, all with different skill sets. After taking most of the reps as the No. 1 back a season ago, Jalen Rouse has resumed that role this spring. The junior played in all 11 games last year and led the team with 613 yards and two scores and has had a great spring.
Jordan Gant, who burst onto the scene late last season has been solid behind Rouse, along with Tre Boone III and Tony Amerson. Junior college transfer Antwone Parker has shown his ability to run downhill and break off defenders using his large 6’0″ 220-pound frame, along with Willie Eldridge.
After losing three defensive linemen to the FBS level and others to graduation, one of TSU’s needs was depth on the DL and they have found that with some new talented additions. Jalen Bell, the Mississippi Valley State transfer, has had an incredible spring with the Tigers, earning a starting spot right away. Bell has been quick off the ball and has tallied numerous tackles for loss throughout camp. His 31 career games played, and 113 tackles should make him a leader in the DL group.
Along with Bell up front will be Terrell Allen, who returns for his second season with the Tigers. Allen played in 10 games last season and finished with 36 tackles, 12.0 TFL’s and 4.5 sacks, and has picked up right where he left off. Cameron Stewart also returns but has been battling injuries throughout spring ball, along with Chris Walker and Abraham Alabi who have missed this spring but will be ready for the fall. Terry Grove and Elijah Hill have been making plays in the trenches with their new opportunities, along with Chandon Page who made the jump to the defensive side of the ball this spring.
The secondary has been phenomenal this spring, showcasing their ball-hawk abilities as they have picked off numerous passes through 13 practices. Ken Garlington returns to the Tiger lineup this year in the nickel position and has had a productive spring. Josh Green is back and holding down his safety position, along All-OVC Second Team corner Bryce Phillips. Fondren Hollis III and Dion Villiers have also seen time at corner this spring along with Jalen McClendon who played well last year. Dylan King and Jordan Helton will look to take one of the safety positions, along with Boogie Trotter who has had a solid few weeks in the nickel.
Memphis transfer Jashon Watkins returns for his second season and was practicing for the first time this spring this week as he has been battling injuries. Darius Harper is back for his fourth year with the team and should be a key part of the DB rotation.
One other thing that fans should keep an eye on is having to replace Kaleb Mosley. Mosley had a great season for the Tigers last year, handling both punting and field goal duties. James Loweryhas been tabbed to take over field goal and extra point duties while resuming his role as the kickoff specialist. Kobie Stillwell has been handling punt duties this spring.
The Tigers, led by head coach Eddie George who enters his third season, will kick off the 2023 season against Notre Dame on September 2 in South Bend. Ind.