Football team gets ready for spring game

Senior DeAngelo Henry (middle) gets tackled by senior defensive back Delvin Ervin and senior linebacker Donelli Johnson during a drill in spring practice.

The UNA football team is set to close spring training and answer questions with the annual spring game April 14 at Braly Stadium starting at 10 a.m.

New head coach Bobby Wallace is going into the spring with a lot of new faces, a new system and a lot of questions, but he said he has been encouraged by what he has seen so far from the players.

“The attitude and the eagerness to learn by the players—the enthusiasm has been outstanding, and we’ve got places where we are very talented,” Wallace said. “I want to see the players go out and have fun, execute offensively and defensively and make some plays.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions will return only two starters from last year’s team, who finished the season 9-3 and a received second-round, post-season loss to Delta State. Chris Alexander is set to replace two-year starter Lee Chapple, who finished with 3,322 yards and 24 touchdowns.

“He has had a good spring, still learning and has work to do until the fall, but I feel real comfortable with him at quarterback,” Wallace said. “He is athletic and has a good arm, so he has some tools he can work with.”

The Lions also have some new faces at the running back and receiver positions, as the team lost leading rusher Wes Holland and receiver Tristan Purifoy. At running back, the Lions return Lamonte Thompson and Chris Coffee, who leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns.

At the receiver position, the Lions return Mo Milliam, who had 795 yards and five touchdowns. They also return Daniel Almon and Jason Smith.

“All of our receivers have made plays throughout the spring, and I think we got a little bit of depth at that position,” Wallace said.

The biggest question for officials heading into spring training was the offensive line, with only five offensive linemen participating in spring drills.

“We have been doing a lot of individual drills with them because we are really thin at that position,” Wallace said. “I’m real eager to see how well they do in picking up blocks because they haven’t had much practice at it.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions return only two starters, but Wallace said he believes there is some talent that can make some big plays for the Lions in the fall.

“We’ve got some talented players in the secondary, and I have been very impressed with that group so far,” Wallace said.

The team returns Nick Williams, Caleb Massey and Rod Woodson to help anchor the secondary.

At the linebacker, the team lost all three starters, including leading tackler Marcus Dowtin. New middle linebacker from Gulf Coast University Tavarius Wilson has made an impact during the spring.

“He has been a great addition to our team and has made a lot of plays for us during the spring,” Wallace said. “I think he will surprise a lot of people with how talented he really is.”

Wallace is looking forward to seeing how the defense plays during the spring game and hopes it can make some plays.

“I want to see them fly around the football, play with enthusiasm and have some high energy on that side of the ball,” Wallace said.

Quick Facts

2011 Record: 9-3

Returning Starters: Offense 2  Defense 2

Players to Watch:

RB Chris Coffee

   335 yds., 8 TDs.

WR Mo Miliam

   794 yds., 5 TDs.

QB Chris Alexander

    208 yds., 3 TDs.