Inherent in the Longhorns’ recent success has been their ability to reload instead of rebuild.
The conclusion of spring practice, however, proved that reloading for 2014 may be more difficult than it’s ever been.
“We graduated a lot of seniors,” said Kell coach Derek Cook, whose team will lose 23 seniors to graduation, including 15 starters. “There’s a lot of competition for a lot of open spots, and seniors, juniors and guys from across the board will have an opportunity to fill those roles.”
Kell graduated four-year starter Taylor Henkle, as well as three-year starters Julian Burris, Jay Moxey, Ethan Elliott and Nathan Waller. Also gone are Austin Meaut, Errol Breaux and Donnell Greene, among others.
“Regardless of the grades, we’re approaching the upcoming season in a business-like manner,” Cook said. “I think that’s good for us. The more competition there is, the better it is for our football team.”
Kell, who saw almost 70 players come out for spring practice, should have no problems figuring out who its starting quarterback will be with rising senior Cameron Rosendahl returning.
Rosendahl saw extensive playing time in 2013, following an injury to starter Matthew McGuigan. Once McGuigan returned, Cook used both quarterbacks interchangeably, which helped the Longhorns reach the Class AAAAA state semifinals.
“(Rosendahl) has the experience, and that’s a big advantage for us,” Cook said. “He knows the offense.”
Other returners who Cook feels could contribute include linebackers Michael McCain and Bryson Armstrong, as well as defensive lineman Evan Carnes.
“Those guys are back, and they have experience on both sides of the ball, which is going to help us,” Cook said.
According to Cook, the most competitive battles during spring practice came at running back and linebacker.
Returning running back Itabari Mason looked good with the touches he had during practice, as did Ivan Walls.
“The play at that position was solid,” Cook said. “Those guys are playing at a high level, and they really want it. It’s a lot of ‘boy-dog’ battling going on.
“But that’s what we want. We want it there and at all spots on the field. It’s wide-open, and everything will wash itself out, and the best will rise out of the competition.”
The defensive secondary is another area that will need more time to decipher, with several players currently having a chance at starting roles.
“There are a whole lot of guys competing there,” Cook said. “From one through 10, they’re all about the same right now. It will shake out when we get back in the summer.”
Several linemen also had outstanding practices, including Elijah “Porkchop” Owens.
“If you say ‘Elijah,’ nobody will know who you’re talking about,” Cook said. “He’s ‘Porkchop,’ and we felt like he was dominant at times on the offensive and defensive lines. That’s a whole bag full of meanness when you’re talking about him.”
Cook was especially glad to see everyone get out of spring practice without any major injuries.
“Nobody got hurt, so that’s a positive to carry over into the summer,” he said. “There are some kids who surprised me, and some guys who stepped forward and showed they’ll be able to contribute. The linemen had a good spring, which was also good to see.”