2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 7: MACON TIGERS
DUERRISMS CAMP NOTES FROM OUR TRIP TO MACON
THE SKINNY: The Tigers return just three offensive and four defensive starters from a squad that went 11-1 in 2016. Graduation losses include 17 Seniors and the Clarence Cannon Conference Offensive Player of the Year in Quarterback Nolan Bright. That established, the pieces Pete Claas does bring back are quality. His mission is simply connecting the dots in a suitable way.
KING SMOOT: Senior Defensive Tackle Jeffrey Smoot is coming off a 100 tackle, 5 sack Junior Season is likely the front runner for CCC Defensive Player of the Year Honors. He's a 275 monster who moves exceptionally well; a former Fullback and Linebacker who simply blew up physically. He's incredibly quick off the football and his motor revs constantly.
THE CLAAS OF THE LEAGUE: Shane Levett moves from Defensive Line to Linebacker this year, making that unit as talented as any in the Cannon. There is still some fit and polish to be down with all three of these guys but Levett's physicality (6'2" 235lbs) and blitz ability (4.5 sacks a year ago) pairs nicely with Tynan Mitchell's "twitchy" explosion (75 tackles) and Travis Wood's ability to flow seamlessly across the field. Pete Claas is still working with Levett to read faster but if that happens, these guys are going to be insanely good.
NASH BRIDGES THE GAP: Having to replace a kid of Nolan Bright's caliber is no picnic, but Pete Claas views his new Quarterback Nash Waller as completely different kind of piece to fit in that peg. Whereas Bright excelled with his feet and learned how to throw over three years, Waller comes to the table as a very fine passer from the jump. The Junior has an easy release on the deep ball and spent most of Wednesday overthrowing his receivers. Some of that is early season timing and what not but it does speak to the arm strength in play. He's just a Junior but I like the skill set and the way he moves. He could be very good in his own, very different right.
BREAKOUT ALERT: Love the potential Kevin Edwards brings to the mix here as a breakaway threat in the backfield to pair with Tynan Mitchell and Travis Wood. Edwards isn't very big (5'9" 170lbs) and he probably needs double the number of strides to get to the end zone versus backs blessed with longer frames. Still, the kid can move. He's got great hands (see also the interception on this report at the very end) and he's strong enough and compact enough to punish and ward off tacklers. Kevin had seven touchdowns in just 41 touches a year ago. That projects to 17 scores on a 100 touch scale. There's definite value to exploit here now that Jared Savage has moved on and I think Edwards has a chance to push for top five status as a runner within the conference hierarchy.
SUPER SLEEPERS: Waller's passing ability is going to give Bradley Butner (all 6'3" of him) more opportunity to flash the pass catching ability he displayed as a Sophomore. He kind of reminds me of those really good old school Wide Receivers Dave Shalley used to put to good use in the hey day of Scotland County's passing game. He's not the only such weapon either. Keep your eye out for 6'4" Senior Cade Hicks as well, who comes from good football stock.