San Marcos, Texas – There was different feeling in the air on Saturday morning when Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione welcomed 118 players to their first spring practice on the Bobcat football practice fields.
“The energy and buzz is starting to heighten,” said Franchione. “ It began with the announcement that we are going to join the WAC a little over a year ago and it is has continued to build. With the start of spring practice, I don’t think football is too far in the back of our alumni and fans’ minds. We all are excited about the move that we are going to make.”
Texas State is beginning preparations for its first season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and its second year of transition to the NCAA Division I FBS status.
“The schedule that we are going to face this year is going to be the most challenging in school history and a big jump for us,” said Franchione.
The Bobcats will open the season at Houston before playing home games against the likes of Texas Tech, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Idaho and Stephen F. Austin. Texas State will also play road games at New Mexico, Navy, San Jose State, Utah State and UTSA.
“I think that has been a big motivator for our players during the off-season and as we go into spring practice because they know that they have to step up their game,” said Franchione. “We have try to put them into positions where they can be as successful as they can while we make this jump.”
With that in mind, Franchione has moved a pair of former starting defensive linemen, Adley Eshraghipour and Jeff Clermond, to the offensive line where Thaddeus Watkins and Charlie Will Tuttle are the only returning starters. Texas State must replace departed FCS All-American guard D.J. Hall, Michael Chambers and Jon Vernon.
“We brought in some junior college defensive line men and feel that Adley and Jeff have a chance to start on the offensive line,” said Franchione. “We have 16 guys competing for the five starting positions. We are going to have some competition out there this spring.”
The junior college defensive linemen are Jacob Woten, Kamu Taulelei and Thomas Evans. Darius Hood also will compete with returning starters Jordan Norfleet, Blake McColloch and Deshun Williams. The Bobcats also return Jarrett Haywood, Jamie Clavell-Head and redshirt freshman Tylond Robertson.
In addition, the Bobcats will have four quarterbacks on scholarship this spring with the additions of junior college transfer Duke DeLancellotti and prep school transfer Jordan Moore. They join returning quarterbacks, Shaun Rutherford, who enters spring drills as the incumbent starter, and junior Tyler Arndt.
Tim Hawkins also joined the wide receiving corps after playing part-time at running back and wide receiver last season.
“We have work to do while building a foundation that will be competitive in the (WAC),” said Franchione. “We think that we can do that, but we are not sure how fast we can. But we believe that we will do that and it’s exciting to be a part of that. As you go around and talk to our students, our fans and alumni, they are very excited about the move made by their university.”
That excitement continues to build on the Bobcat practice fields this spring and the Bobcats continue their preparations for the 2012 season.