Newcomers drawing attention as camp comes to a close

Published 10:58 pm Friday, August 17, 2018

Another Troy season is on the horizon. The Trojans hit the field in two weeks to open the season against the Boise State Broncos at the new-look Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Familiar faces in Hunter Reese, Blace Brown and Marcus Jones will strap on their shoulder pads ready to lead the Trojans to another successful season. They won’t be the only ones. The Trojans have a plethora of new players on the roster that have stood out to head coach Neal Brown during fall camp.

Although he is currently sitting third on the depth chart, freshman quarterback Gunner Watson has had plenty of reps during fall camp.

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“Gunner has gotten a lot of reps,” Brown said. “With only three quarterbacks on scholarship, he is a guy that we have to get ready to play. I feel really good about him. He is a student of the game and he is a really good athlete.”

The Trojans are tasked with replacing key receivers from last year’s squad including Emmanuel Thompson. One newcomer that has showed up in camp and could get playing time has been Demontrez Brown. The Madison, Alabama native hauled in 998 yards receiving as a senior at Bob Jones High School and had 12 touchdowns.

“He came in on a mission,” Brown said. “He looks the part. He is 6-2 plus, 210 pounds. I think he has been physically ready. I have been impressed with what he has done.”

He is not the only receiver stepping out of the shadows, late signee Daniel Crowell has shined with the Trojans in camp. The receiver led East Mississippi Community College to a NJCAA National Championship as a sophomore in 2017.

“He had two years and was one of the leading receivers two years in a row,” Brown said. “He is ready from a physical standpoint. He has to get into better shape. He is dynamic and will add another dimension to us.”

Luke Whittemore is a redshirt freshman that stole the show during spring practice for the Trojans and he started fall camp the same way.

“He can catch the football,” Brown said. “The guy is an athlete, he can run and he is explosive. We named him the most outstanding player on offense for spring practice. He has caught the most balls in fall camp of any receiver. He has the highest catch completion percentage.”

The offensive line is a position of depth for the Trojans. They enter the season with Austin Stidham, Kirk Kelley, Deontae Crumitie, Tristan carter and J.L. Gaston sure to get much of the playing time. However, freshman offensive lineman Jake Andrews is starting to turn some heads.

“I think Jake Andrews has a place,” Brown said. “He has an opportunity to play early. From a strength standpoint, he is there. Whether he will be at center or guard is still to be determined, but I think he has the opportunity to push for early playing time.”

Defensive tackle Will Choloh was a three-star recruit coming out of Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

“He is a guy we are going to get ready to play,” Brown said. “We feel like he needs to play.”

Defensive end Jarvis Hayes, defensive lineman Travis Sailo and linebackers KJ Robertson are other young players on the Trojans defense that may get some early playing time this fall.

Safety Will Sunderland, a big-time transfer from Oklahoma, will be looked upon to make an impact at safety, as will Louisville transfer wide receiver Traveon Samuel.

The Trojans and Broncos will kick off the season on September 1 beginning at 5 p.m.