Football is back. Smith-Cotton has its players in pads for the first time this year for a week-long camp at Tigers Stadium.
The players were in shoulder pads and helmets during Tuesday’s practice and coach Ryan Boyer said he’d probably wait until Thursday to go full pads.
“For day two we’ve been able to see some things and we are pretty pleased so far,” he said.
This week’s camp allows coaches to evaluate the team and get an idea of what depth chart will look like.
“By the end of this camp, as a staff we start setting the depth chart,” Boyer said. “We come into this camp with an idea of the depth chart, but we start setting the depth chart and really evaluate the guys and see where they’ve progressed and maybe move some guys to different positions to get some different looks and build off of that.”
Boyer said he already sees good depth at the skill positions. Blake Jackson, Jake McFail and Corey Bond are among the top returning receivers. At tight end, guys like Eli Kemp and Izaiah Snyder could have plays designed to go their way.
“We have a few tight ends and hopefully this year we can utilize that more in our pass game,” Boyer said.
There’s also a host of running backs including Noah Aziere, Carlton Homan, Dalton Zaremba and Ricky Warren for the Tigers to utilize.
“When you have depth like that at those positions, you have guys that can push each other,” Boyer said. “You don’t get guys that are complacent.”
On the defensive end, coach Charlie McFail said he’s keeping the battles pretty open even with several returning starters.
“We’ve got some open ones,” McFail said. “We have a lot of kids returning from last year, but we have some young guys coming up and we’ve got some backups that had quite a bit of time last year that are fighting for positions. … It’s not always the best athlete, it’s the kids that work well together.”
McFail said he wants to use the camp to teach the defensive players their roles during certain plays.
“What we’re trying to get them taught is responsibility,” he said. “Where they’ve got to be, when they’ve got to be there and looking at what the offense is bringing with different formations and what they can do out of those sets and what our responsibilities to defend those things.”
For the linemen, this week gives them their first chance to be more involved on the field since most of the summer has been about seven-on-seven drills.
“They are really excited because they are really getting to get after it more,” Boyer said.
After these five days of camp, the dead period begins, keeping the team from having official practices until two-a-days start on Aug. 3.
“You can’t waste any days,” Boyer said. “Each day we talk about week 1 opening with Republic. Obviously we have a jamboree before that, but that’s what you’re ultimately preparing for is week 1.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.