Aug. 9, 2012
The Fayetteville State University football team will take the field Friday for its first practice in preparation for the 2012 campaign.
114 student-athletes will report to the initial exercise of camp, which begins the acclimation period. The first practice in full gear will be held Tuesday morning. The semester of classes begin Thursday.
Through camp, Head Coach Kenny Phillips and his staff will look for leaders to emerge from a very competitive collection of players.
"I told the guys at our first team meeting that nobody has a job yet," Phillips said. "The ones that are learning the defense will get ahead, and the ones that are learning the offense will get ahead."
Here are three more storylines to watch as camp gets underway.
Older and Wiser
After being young and relatively inexperienced for the past two seasons, the Broncos return 17 starters from the 2011 squad which matured down the stretch to win four out of its final six contests.
18 freshmen saw significant playing time last season, and after being in play for a berth in the Pioneer Bowl during the second half of last season, FSU has the potential to vault forward with its experience.
One such returnee is defensive back Joshua Scales (Junior, Southern Pines, N.C.), who emerged as a star last season with the highest average of interceptions per game in the nation with seven picks in eight games. Scales will lead a defense which held its last three 2011 opponents to 14.7 points per game.
"Hopefully it will be a smooth transition with the defense knowing what we want to do from last year and the offense from the spring," Phillips said.
One of the biggest questions to be answered at camp is who will start at quarterback for the Broncos when the season opens at North Carolina Central on Sept. 1.
Junior college transfer Brandon Blumears-Cluff (Senior, Phoenix, Ariz.) began the season in the starting role, demonstrating good scrambling skills and leadership traits. However, FSU found a more balanced attack midseason under true freshman Chauncey Concepcion (Sophomore, Charlotte, N.C.), who was named to the CIAA's All-Rookie Team despite not playing a full season.
Phillips will let the competition ride into camp, where Blumears-Cluff and Concepcion will be joined by four other quarterbacks vying for the starting job.
"It's always a good thing," Phillips said of competition. "We'll have competition at some positions we haven't had before."
Regardless of who claims the starting position behind center, the entire offense should improve behind an offensive line which returns four out of five starters. Seniors William Hunt (Plymouth, N.C.) and Deric Privette (Bunn, N.C.), along with juniors Blade Shoop (Southern Pines, N.C.) and Desmond Roberts (Henrico, N.C.), will anchor a quality front. In addition, the Broncos have a good class of incoming lineman to add to the mix.
"How offensive line goes is how we'll go offensively," Phillips said.
New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Mejia will also benefit the offense. The former quarterback brings fresh eyes to the squad and will help the offensive unit progress.
"Mark is a great guy. He communicates well," Phillips said. "He definitely did a good job with the guys in the spring."
Season tickets are available for sale at the university's ticket office.
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