Trojan football opens spring
Pursuit of a fifth straight Sun Belt football championship officially began for the Troy Trojans Friday when the Trojans opened spring football practice.
Troy comes into the spring with several question marks, most notably at quarterback, where the Trojans must find a way to replace Levi Brown, who set numerous school passing records during his time at Troy.
The contenders to win the job are redshirt junior Jamie Hampton, redshirt freshman Corey Robinson, junior Dantavious Parker and junior college transfer Greg Jenkins.
Hampton started two years ago for Troy before suffering a season-ending knee injury, giving way to Brown. He then redshirted last season.
Hampton enters the spring as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but the competition is considered open.
“I believe this is what you want,” Hampton said.
“You want competition. The job’s not going to be handed to anybody. As a competitor, that’s all you can ask for. It’s fun to come out here and compete.”
Hampton said the time off has given him time to improve his throwing motion from where it was two seasons ago.
“I think I threw the ball a little bit better in high school than I did two years ago,” Hampton said.
“I changed my motion, and that took a little while to get used to.”
The time away from playing may have given Hampton a chance to improve on the field, but one of his teammates said it also helped him to improve off the field.
“I think he had a year to gather himself, and gain some confidence,” said senior wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.
“He kind of has a heads up since he has the experience. He’s turned into a bigger leader now that Levi’s gone, and I think he feels like it’s his turn.”
The big question mark for Hampton is how his surgically-repaired knee will hold up to the stress of playing contact football again.
“Sometimes it still gets a little sore or a little stiff when I run or cut or plant on it,” Hampton said.
“I’m probably two to three months away from being 100 percent, but I’m at least 95 percent or more right now.”
While Hampton does have the edge heading into spring, he knows he will be pushed hard by the other three quarterbacks.
“All three of them are really good quarterbacks,” Hampton said.
“They’re great guys, and we’re really good friends. I don’t think I have a leg up because I think it’s wide open for all four of us.”
Jernigan said each quarterback brings his own unique skill set to the position.
“With Corey Robinson, he’s not really going to run,” Jernigan said.
“He’s going to sit back there, and find the open man. Jenkins, he can throw, but he’s got the legs, too. Dan is a big kid that can really run the ball, but he can throw it, too.”
Jernigan also said he had no favorites in the race for the starting spot.
“I just want to see them compete, and whoever wins the job, wins it,” Jernigan said.
“The coaches are going to put the best player out there, so I’m just going to get reps in with all four of them.”
Even though the quarterback competition is the biggest story of spring practice, there are also questions to be answered along the defensive line.
Troy lost defensive endsBrandon Lang and Cameron Sheffield and defensive tackle Kevin Dixon to graduation, and recently lost defensive tackle Eugene Kinlaw, who decided to leave school to pursue professional opportunities due to hardship issues.
That leaves redshirt junior Sidell Corley as the player coaches are counting upon to be a leader along the defensive front.
“I’ve just got to step up,” Corley said.
“The coaches will push me to do whatever they need me to do. I have a job to do, so I just go by whatever they tell me.”
Troy will practice for the next two weeks, leading up to the T-Day scrimmage April 3 at 1 p.m.
The Trojans then wrap up spring practice April 8.