PRAIRIE VIEW – The road to the 2020 season has officially begun, as Prairie View A&M football took to Panther Stadium at Blackshear Field to open spring practice Monday afternoon.
Over the next month, PVAMU Head Football Coach Eric Dooley will take the Panthers through their spring slate, which concludes March 28 at 4 p.m. with the annual Purple and Gold Spring Game.
The next few weeks should provide plenty of opportunities for returnees and new additions to The Hill, as well as the atmosphere is expected to be rife with competition. Notable areas to watch include a pair of key position battles on the offensive side as well as integrating newcomers into the front seven.
Here’s a closer look as to what to watch for this spring:
Who’s got the keys:
With the graduation of signal-caller Jalen Morton, the quarterback position is up for grabs, and the Panthers have options that proved capable of directing the show on field during the 2019 campaign, namely TJ Starks and Trazon Connely. Connely may project as the leader in the clubhouse going into spring practice after flashing as a superbly efficient conductor during the final leg of 2019. Over the final three games of the season – all PVAMU wins – Connely completed 61 percent of his passes and averaged nearly 187 yards passing along with 125 yards rushing with an impressive 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Though Starks didn’t receive as much opportunity in 2019, he made the most of what he was given. He averaged an impressive 12.3 yards per attempt with several big plays through the air, showing the potential to bring an explosive play-making element to the Panthers’ huddle. Ideally, either man – or a potential newcomer – steps forward to seize control of what should once again be one of the most statistically productive offenses in the country.
I run this:
Perhaps the biggest offensive loss for the Panthers to address will be at running back, where dynamo Dawonya Tucker has graduated. Though small in stature, Tucker was one of the top all-purpose weapons in the nation, and his absence leaves Dooley and company with quite the hole to fill as the team lost three of its top four rushers as well as its top two backs. That said, in six of the past seven years Prairie View A&M has had an All-SWAC performer at running back, so precedent suggests that whomever emerges as lead back should be in line for a productive season. The question is… who steps up?
This may be where either sophomore Ahmad Antoine or junior Kristian Mosley either assume the mantle as breakout stars in Dooley’s offense or combine as a formidable tandem. The third-year coach is confident in the incumbents, but another name to watch? Incoming freshman Dralyn Taylor, a high-energy player that Dooley believes offers a bright future at the position.
The 2020 Panthers signing class focused on an “inside-out” approach, choosing to strengthen both sides of the line, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. While the back seven looks strong thanks to a majority of the production returning in the secondary and at linebacker, the defensive front will be a point of emphasis. Leading sack man Jason Dumas returns, but as a whole, the defensive line loses key contributors and to that end, the Panthers focused on bringing in a combo of size and explosiveness upfront. The staff is high on newcomers such as Shelvin Hudson, Kevin Victorian and Troy James, and the expectation is that one or more of them play immediately.
At offensive line, the Panthers do have a lot of experience coming back as a few players were given a trial by fire. Additionally, newcomers Tyus Philips and Jordan Johnson offer imposing presences that could give PVAMU a nasty streak at the position.
Courtesy: PVAMU Athletics