KENNESAW — Kennesaw State started its spring football practice Monday with question marks at the quarterback position.
All three quarterback candidates — Tommy Bryant, Jonathan Murphy and Xavier Shepherd — received playing time last season.
Bryant took over late in the season when Daniel David suffered a season-ending injury at Campbell. He went on to start the remaining two regular season games before he got hurt during the Owls’ 28-27 win over Wofford in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Even though Kennesaw State fell 26-20 to No. 3-ranked Weber State in the second round, Murphy stepped in for Bryant showed promise as he rushed for 322 yards and scored four touchdowns in just over six quarters of play.
Shepherd of Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville, Tennessee, played sparingly in four games last season.
“Those are our three guys, and I am excited about all three of them,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. “It’s a good group that is hungry. Tommy’s played more than any of them and (Murphy) and (Shepherd) played in four games last year. It will be a great competition.”
All three will compete under the guidance of former Kennesaw State quarterback Chandler Burks, who is returning to his alma mater as quarterback coach after spending a season at Wofford as a defensive coach.
The Owls will also use the spring to fill a backfield void with Bronson Rechsteiner graduating.
Isaac Foster, who is practicing on a limited basis, has big-play ability and should see a substantial role at that position should be at full strength after missing the final five games of the 2019 to an ankle injury.
Foster may also resume his duties on serve on special teams as both the kick and punt returner. He was injured against Presbyterian during his longest punt return of the season at 57 yards.
“Well, he’s not ready now, but he’s back practicing, not full time,” Bohannon said of Foster. “He’s kind of getting back into the swing of things. I feel confident that he’ll continue to grow with each practice and be ready to go in the fall. He’s out here part-time. He didn’t do everything, but he’s getting back into the swing of things.”
Should Foster not be at full strength, the Owls have returning starter Shaquil Terry, along with Antavius Grier and Adeolu Adeleke to go to along with former Creekview High School standout Cade Radam among others.
This year’s spring practice marks the first for Kennesaw State’s newly promoted defensive coordinator Danny Verpaele. A safeties coach a year ago, Verpaele has seven returning starters to work with, highlighted by former Kell standout linebacker and Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year Bryson Armstrong.
“Coach V has a ton of energy and enthusiasm,” Bohannon said. “I watch him at practices and meetings and there is a lot of attention to detail, and I think our kids are locked in on getting better and I think everybody’s receptive of what’s going on right now. The scheme part of it will be what we have done. He’s going to put his personality on it and how he does things.”