Wolves shuffle spots on offense
A one-handed, leaping touchdown catch by freshman wide receiver Jonathan Adams highlighted the first three days of Arkansas State University’s fall football practice.
The catch occurred Sunday during an offensive drill that began 40 yards from the end zone. ASU Coach Blake Anderson said the play demonstrated the team’s depth at the outside receiver position, and persauded him to move senior Chris Murray to an inside receiver spot.
“Because we’ve got some length and size at the outside spots, it just made sense for [Murray] to be the guy to move,” said Anderson, who believes ASU has five or six guys who can play outside receiver. “With Murray moving inside, it creates another dynamic: He’s a guy that can really run. Likes the ball in his hands in space.”
Murray — a 5-9, 181-pound former transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College — started seven games for ASU last season, when he recorded the team’s fifth-most receptions (22) for 327 yards and a touchdown.
The outside receiver group includes a Sun Belt Conference preseason second-teamer in senior Dijon Paschal (22 catches, 308 yards, 3 touchdowns in 2016), and 6-5, 212-pound redshirt junior Kendrick Edwards, who sat out last season after transferring from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Anderson said Murray is “the most versatile we had,” and that “he’s looked really comfortable” during the first three days of fall practice.
Redshirt sophomore Chauncey Mason also changed positions after opening camp at running back, having transitioned from wide receiver over the summer after the transfers of sophomores Daryl Rollins-Davis (23 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown) and Logan Moragne (9 carries, 22 yards).
Mason, who redshirted last season and didn’t play as a freshman, joins a crowded backfield that includes returning starter Warren Wand (200 carries, 879 yards, 7 touchdowns). But Anderson said Mason has “already had some very good snaps” and “made a couple nice cuts” and “big runs” during a practice period in which the offense played against the defense.
The 5-9, 182-pound Mason played both receiver and running back at Boynton Beach
ASU suspends LB for 2017 season
The Arkansas State University football program announced Monday night that senior linebacker Khari Lain was suspended for the 2017 season for not meeting an NCAA policy during the team’s appearance in the 2016 Cure Bowl.
The athletic department and ASU Coach Blake Anderson would not comment on the specific policy Lain did not meet. The Red Wolves defeated Central Florida 31-13 in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 17 in Orlando, Fla., and Lain had two tackles in the game.
“We are obviously disappointed for both Khari and our team that he won’t be on the field for his senior season,” Anderson said in a statement.
Lain played 13 games in a reserve role and on special teams during the 2016 season. His 32 tackles were the most on the team among players who didn’t start.
— Brooks Kubena
(Fla.) High School, where he was rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com and 247Sports.
Senior running backs Johnston White and Armond WehWeh practiced after missing the spring with injuries, and Anderson said he saw “some improvement” from redshirt sophomore Jamal Jones, who recorded negative yardage last season on three carries.
Anderson said ASU’s runpass-option offense will require a rotation at running back.
“It’s going to be by committee a little bit,” Anderson said. “With everyone knowing their role, it allows us to have some confidence knowing that we have more than one or two guys that can help us.”
In accordance with NCAA rules, ASU players practiced Saturday and Sunday with helmets. They will continue to practice with shoulder pads, after the team began practicing with the added equipment Monday. Wednesday’s practice will be the first day of full pads, and the Red Wolves will scrimmage Saturday at 8:50 a.m. Anderson said that one will be basic compared with the scrimmage scheduled Aug. 12, when he said it will be more like a game.
Arkansas State senior Chris Murray has moved to the inside receiver position after the arrival of freshman wide receiver Jonathan Adams. Murray started 7 games for ASU last season, catching 22 passes for 327 yards and 1 touchdown. The Red Wolves begin the season Sept. 2 at Nebraska.