After a semifinal run in the 2014-15 season, the Bearkats are hungrier than ever to go all the way.
The first step in that journey is spring training, which for the Bearkats concludes at 7:30 on Friday with the annual Orange-White game.
The contest caps off a four week slate that featured 13 practices and gave the coaches quite a few looks at all the Bearkats that are returning and rookies alike.
It also gave the 54 lettermen and 17 starting Kats that returned from last year’s team a chance to sharpen up their skills and familiarize themselves with the new coaches and Bearkats.
The defensive tackles, running backs, cornerbacks and secondary all got new coaches over the offseason, thanks to some promotions and coaches with other opportunities.
One squad that will really have to step up this year is the wide receivers.
Two big names for that group last year, LaDarius Brown and Gerald Thomas, who combined for 1,741 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, are both gone. That leaves a void in outside receivers.
The coaching staff is looking toward a new young core of receivers that include sophomores Grant Finney, Tyler Scott, and Davion Davis to try and replace, but not replicate, those two players.
“Tyler Scott is a guy who is going to have to step up, so that gives us a chance to move Davion Davis to the outside,” SHSU Head Coach K.C. Keeler said. “Grant Finney has to move to a new level. I think he has a good spring. He has to take over a starting role.”
Davis spent most of last season as an inside receiver, along with partner in crime sophomore Yedidiah Louis.
Keeler doesn’t have any plans to change Louis’ role however, saying that Yedi will have to be himself for the Bearkats to win.
One place the Bearkats have really improved so far this spring was in special teams.
“We were really clean executing with special teams,” Keeler said. “I really like what Kyle Segler has been doing with special teams. He has done a good job of getting all the assistant coaches involved in special teams.”
The one thing the Bearkats have to work on before Friday, according to Keeler, is tackle well and ball security, which should come with more playing time.
A couple interesting things to watch during the Orange-White game are the skill positions.
Both the quarterbacks who led the Bearkats last year – Jared Johnson and Jeremiah Briscoe -return and so the coaches have another tough decision ahead.
The wide receiver battle and moves should also be the eyes of the off-season with a lot of players who will return but some newcomers as well, such as freshman receiver Nathan Stewart, who Keeler thinks has potential to start next season.
Another player to watch will be corner Jermaine Roberts Jr. who transferred to SHSU after a knee injury sidelined the scholarship athlete at the University of Texas.
The game kicks off at 7:30 on Friday at Elliot T. Bowers Stadium.