Head coach Jack Welch experimented and liked the results. Junior-to-be Jaylen Smith emerged from spring drills as the top quarterback at Copperas Cove, and the Bulldawgs should benefit with him at the offensive helm.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Smith told the Killeen Daily Herald. “My footwork is definitely getting a lot better, and my arm strength is improving.”
Smith replaced last year’s starter, senior-to-be Caine Garner. The move allows Garner to rotate between quarterback, running back, and wide receiver to exploit his vast gridiron skills. Last season, he passed for 813 yards and rushed for 301 yards in his first year of varsity competition.
Welch has penciled in Elijah Washington as the starting running back. Washington has some big shoes to fill, replacing Antonio Lealiiee, who gained 1,397 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2015.
“He has really stepped up,” Welch commented to the Daily Herald. “I think he has solidified himself as our No. 1 running back right now.”
Depth at the position greatly pleases the Bulldawg staff. Kylan Herrera returns after running for 723 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Daveon Thomas and Andrew Patterson also appear ready to take their share of snaps.
On the defensive side, Copperas Cove features a pair of outstanding linebackers. Tyson Curry anchors one spot after leading the team in tackles last season with 52, and Zach Moody appears ready to compliment him.
“I’m excited about having more responsibility,” Moody stated to the Daily Herald. “I just like communicating with all my teammates and building chemistry.”
The Bulldawgs wrap up spring practice with their annual intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday, May 26. Welch believes his players have made great progress this off-season.
“I can see what is coming,” he remarked to the Daily Herald. “We’re not to home plate yet, but we are rounding second base and heading to third, and that’s not a bad place to be.”