Jonesboro (ASU) – The Arkansas State football team opened its 2010 spring camp Monday afternoon, taking the field at ASU Stadium in shorts and helmets for their first of 15 practices over the next four weeks.
The Red Wolves return 50 lettermen, including 27 players that started at least one game last season. ASU also has four mid-term junior college transfers participating in its spring camp, including defensive back Darron Edwards, wide receiver Dwayne Frampton, defensive end Brandon Joiner and linebacker Michael Lombardo.
The Red Wolves began the first stages on the field of implementing a different offense under new offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze, with highly-touted redshirt freshman quarterback Phillip Butterfield taking the snaps with the first team. Ryan Aplin, who started three of the last four games at quarterback last season, is taking part in the practices, but is unavailable for any passing drills or team sessions.
With the departure of Reggie Arnold, ASU's second all-time leading rusher, the Red Wolves will have a new feature running back as well. Junior Derek Lawson, who recorded 949 rushing yards his first two seasons, and Jermaine Robertson are currently listed atop the depth chart, but several players will be in the mix during the spring. ASU will also welcome a pair of talented running backs in Frankie Jackson and Sirgregory Thorton in the fall.
With several injuries last season, a large number of players return along the offensive line that gained valuable experience a year ago. That group includes All-Sun Belt Conference selection Derek Newton. ASU also brings back starting tight end Kedric Murry, and sophomore Taylor Stockemer went through practice as the Red Wolves leading receiver among those returning.
ASU's defense, which ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference last season, returns 10 players that started at one point last season. Among those back for ASU in 2010 is All-Sun Belt Conference selection Bryan Hall, leading tackler Demario Davis and interception leader Kelcie McCray.
"We got a beautiful day for our first practice and it was great to get back on the field," said ASU head coach Steve Roberts. "I thought our effort was outstanding. Obviously, everything is new offensively and the defense also has to adjust to a whole new set of circumstances with the offense it is facing. I thought everyone did an excellent job as far as effort is concerned, but we have to go back and watch film and we already know there are a lot of things we have to clean up before we put new stuff in on Wednesday's practice."
This is the latest the Red Wolves have ever started their spring camp during the Roberts era.
"We've normally started (spring camp) earlier and tried to get six or seven practices in before spring break, but we're still trying to get as many guys as possible out on the field," said Roberts. "I think we still have 14 players that are out, but we may get a couple of those guys back during spring camp. Neely Sullivent was cleared to practice Friday. Ryan Aplin still can't throw the ball so he won't be involved in any of the team sessions, but he was cleared today for some limited stuff. With several guys out, that gives a lot of people a lot of opportunity."
ASU will hold its second practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.