By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Even in Saturday’s wet conditions, Shon Brown didn’t want to miss a chance to show what he could do at Rhodes Stadium.
The Elon football team wrapped up spring practice with a scrimmage in front of fans and recruits.
“This was the last day of spring (practice), so I went out there having fun,” said Brown, a rising redshirt sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker. “We lost a lot of guys. There’s a lot of big shoes to fill this spring.”
That process has been ongoing for coach Tony Trisciani and his staff.
“We want to see who can block, tackle, make people miss, make plays in space,” Trisciani said. “I saw growth on both sides of the ball.”
The Phoenix went 8-4 last season, losing in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Elon opens the 2023 season August 31 at Wake Forest.
Elon’s most experienced position group is the offensive line, with four of five 2022 starters still on board. The defensive front is far less experienced, so sometimes during spring that has been rather apparent.
“Other practices, it felt like the (veteran) guys from last year,” rising junior right tackle Kevin Burkett said. “This team is going to be very competitive at a lot of positions. Every practice you see that.”
Elon will have a new quarterback, new kicker, and new punter among this year’s starters. On Saturday, rising redshirt freshman quarterback Will Lankford began the scrimmage taking snaps with the first unit.
Lankford had an impressive hook-up with receiver Caleb Ogunmola for a big gain. The Phoenix is looking to restock at receiver, in the defensive backfield and at linebacker.
“The wide receiver group, there’s a lot of opportunity out there for guys to earn a job,” Trisciani said. “So we rolled a good amount of guys through that group over the 15 practices.”
The defensive wasn’t without positives, collecting turnovers and creating havoc.
“We had some really good flashes,” Brown said.
Among the early enrollees is kicker Jack Berkowitz, who could be the front runner to replace record-setting Skyler Davis.
What was on display for Saturday’s workout could be altered by summer. The transfer portal will open again later this spring, and Elon will assess available players.
“There’s a couple of spots we’ll look to get some guys, get them in here for the summer,” Trisciani said.