The Quarterback Club has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years.
How much? Well, a good indication is that "they" have given the football program over $300,000 for projects not in the football budget that the coaches feel are needed.
Another is to see the reception at the annual Quarterback Club Summer meeting.
An estimated 425 hungry - for food and football - Rebels showed up Friday night for some good eats and to hear each assistant coach give a brief synopsis of their position for 2011.
They were not disappointed. The following is a brief synopsis.
OL Coach Mike Markuson: "I'm looking for every-down effort and consistency. We have experience and we have good size and strength - it's a matter of putting it all together into a cohesive unit. We are a tall group, so it's important we play with a good pad level, but the number one thing is effort on every single down, which I believe these kids will give us. Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie have developed into leaders and they are our tackles. Big Matt Hall did a great job in spring at right guard. A.J. Hawkins has the experience at center now. Left guard is still up for grabs but we like our candidates and we like the overall depth we are developing."
TE/Special Teams James Shibest: "Coach Nutt and I have been together a dozen years and this may be the most excited we've ever been about tight ends. Ferbia Allen is now 250 pounds and looks the part. He had a very consistent spring and just does everything the right way. Jamal Mosley is 6-4, 265 and can run. On film, Jamal is an excellent receiver and blocker. Alex Williams should figure in as well in certain situations. We need to get him bigger, but we feel that will come in time. . . . Our placements will be in good hands with Bryson Rose, who I thought did a very good job last year. Tyler Campbell led the nation in punting a year ago and has experience. We are trying to get him to get more height and a give up a little distance for coverage purposes and to work on his pooch punting, but he's worked hard on both those areas. Andrew Ritter had a lot of touchbacks, which is good, but he has to avoid the out of bounds kickoffs at inopportune times. David Hankins is very good kicking off as well. Jeff Scott made tremendous strides in the return game late last year and in spring and has come a long way in his ability to field punts. Philander Moore is a JUCO we brought in who was the best junior college return guy in the nation last year and showed us some good things in spring."
WR Coach Gunter Brewer: "We brought in the Fab Five in Nick Brassell, Donte Moncrief, Tobias Singleton, T.J. Worthy and Collins Moore. We feel they have a lot of talent, but the by-product of bringing them in is that it has pushed our veterans - like Melvin Harris, Ja-Mes Logan, Vincent Sanders - to do more. Competition will be good for us. I'm looking forward to fall camp after a consistently inconsistent spring. We're looking for playmakers and age does not matter. It's wide open and should be exciting."
RB Coach Derrick Nix: "When we first got here, we brought in Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis and Devin Thomas. To see them develop into what they have become is exciting. Brandon has to be our leader on offense - the guy who gets the most touches. He will produce. Enrique had an excellent spring and is our toughest runner - I expect a lot from him. Devin is a kid who will get his shot. He's a great student and a kid you only have to tell things to once and he's got it. he will help. Then you have the speedster, Jeff Scott. He can make Dexter McCluster-type plays and we will need that. At fullback, H.R. Greer is our bell cow. He's tough, focused and knows what to do. You get everything he's got on every play. E.J. Epperson is right on his heels and will be a big part of our rotation. We feel good about where we are at RB and FB as we approach August."
Houston Nutt on the QBs: (David Lee was out of town visiting his parents, who have been ill.) "If we played tomorrow, Barry Brunetti would be the guy based on what he's done in the offseason, but Randall Mackey is a playmaker who can really throw the ball and can run and Zack Stoudt has a cannon for an arm. Brunetti has the edge at this point, but August practice will tell the tale."
DC Tyrone Nix: "First I have to talk about the defensive staff. Terry Price knows his business up front, and I have a lot of faith in Keith Burns and Chris Vaughn on the back end. Coach Burns has already taught me a lot. At linebacker, we will be led by Mike Marry - 6-2, 250, sideline-to-sideline and arrives in a bad mood. Ralph Williams is a 245-pounder who had a very good spring. Joel Kight is our most experienced guy and he's studious. He will help us keep it all together. C.J. Johnson and Keith Lewis are a pair of exciting freshmen who will figure in to the equation. Then we have guys like Sam Noblin, Will Martin and Rudy Wilson who are on the cusp of helping and could also be a part of special teams. We also have an ace up our sleeve. Even though he won't be able to play, we will benefit from the leadership of D.T. Shackelford. He will be like having another coach on the sidelines and he will be a tremendous asset to our team."
S Coach Chris Vaughn: "Keith Burns gave me my first Division I job when he went to Tulsa as the head coach. I didn't stay long because Coach Nutt hired me back, but to be reunited with Keith is a tremendous thing for me. He's the best in the business and there is so much I can learn from him. Damien Jackson is now about 215 pounds and is stronger than ever. Brishen Mathews is over 200 pounds and is a total team player. Frank Crawford is excellent in coverage and has worked hard on his run support. JUCO Ivan Nicholas was a little lost in spring, but the players tell me in 7-on-7 work this summer than he's grasping things now and making plays. Our freshmen - Chief Brown, Denzel Nkemdiche and Cody Prewitt - are all fast and seem to be mature. We'll have some battles in fall and we are looking forward to seeing them develop and compete. The competition at safety will make everyone better."
DL Coach Terry Price: "On the inside, we will be almost brand new, but I like our look. Our two redshirts - Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett - came in here around 260-270 pounds. They are both over 290 now and I think they are ready to impact this team. They are not scared. They will battle. Justin Smith, who is now around 300 pounds, is also ready to make a mark, and the addition of two JUCOs - Uriah Grant and Gilbert Pena - will help give us more maturity. It's just a matter of them adjusting to this level of play. They are both big and strong. I'm ready to see Uriah in pads because he's a kid who looks the part and works very hard. At DE, we are blessed to have Kentrell Lockett back. He's a leader on and off the field, he's mature, he works hard every day and he's a playmaker. He's a good starting point. Jason Jones has improved a lot, he's become a leader and he takes coaching as well as anyone on the team. Gerald Rivers is bigger and stronger now and I think he's ready to make a move. Wayne Dorsey had a tough year last year transitioning to D-I football, but he's regained his confidence and I look for him to have a good year this year. He's worked hard to prove he belongs. Cameron Whigham is a young kid who has an excellent motor and we now have Carlos Thompson around 245 pounds, which will help him a lot. We have a real good mix of veterans and young guys and we should be able to blend them all together to get the job done. I know they are together, I know they have something to prove and I know they are eager to get it going. They have all paid their dues in the offseason. Now it's time to compete and show what they have."
Secondary Coach Keith Burns: "First of all, let me say that I get it. It doesn't take a genius to see when a pass is completed and your guy is not in position to make a play. It doesn't take a genius to see when a player is not looking for the ball or fighting for the ball. We will fight for the ball and if we don't get it, the offensive guy who does will be sorry he did. We will be physical, we will be aggressive and we will make plays. I am blessed to be here, reunited with Coach Nutt. He's a true leader in every sense of the word and someone I try to emulate in my coaching style. I'm going to be positive with these kids. It's lonely back there at times and I'm going to make sure they know they are not alone. Marcus Temple, Wesley Pendleton, Charles Sawyer, Senquez Golson, Cliff Coleman, Vincent Moss - we are going to work and we are going to compete."
Good food, good info and a good time.
The Quarterback Club, as usual, delivers.
Time for some football!