Wolves shuf­fle spots on of­fense

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL / RECRUITING - BROOKS KUBENA

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.

Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

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.

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