Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Elon Phoenix begin football practice for 2023 season


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Checking on the quality of depth at several positions might never be so relevant for the Elon football team.

Official practice began Tuesday morning, and the Phoenix team has lots to learn in the coming weeks.

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A new starting quarterback will take snaps, the defensive backfield will have some new personnel, and there will be a new kicker and punter.

“That is definitely an adjustment, but it’s a beautiful thing, too,” defensive back Antonio White said of bringing on new starters on defense. “More guys can step up.”

Antonio White

The secondary’s overhaul comes because there were a couple of 2022 seniors and then departures to Football Bowl Subdivision teams via transfers.

Yet coach Tony Trisciani said his staff has had an eye on molding younger players in recent seasons.

“There are some guys running around on defense that you may not know their name yet and be familiar with them, but they’re going to show up,” Trisciani said.

The quarterback topic will be addressed this month without a returning starter.

“We’re breaking in a new quarterback, so it means those guys are going to need some time and everybody else around them is going to have to step up and support them,” Trisciani said. “We’ve got talent at the quarterback position, but we’ve got to give those guys some time to get settled in.”

Will Lankford ended spring practice as the top quarterback and he handled most of Tuesday’s practice repetitions with the first unit. Justin Allen and transfer Matthew Downing are also in the mix.

“That will be re-evaluated every day,” Trisciani said. “We’ll make sure everybody gets some opportunities.”

Downing arrived after spring workouts following stops in previous years at Georgia, Texas Christian, and Louisiana Tech. Allen has been a back-up in the program.

There’s time for the quarterback situation to shake out.

“Fortunately, we don’t need to know for another two weeks,” Trisciani said.

By then, Trisciani and his staff will want to have an idea of the pecking order as preparations heat up for the August 31 opener at Wake Forest.

In the meantime, there’s no lack of motivation for the Phoenix, which reached the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs last year and lost at Furman. That result has fueled the team throughout the offseason.

“We’re thinking about how we lost to Furman,” defensive end Marvin Pearson said. “We don’t want that to happen again.”

Marvin Pearson

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