Kennesaw Mountain has to find its new “Big 3.”
The Mustangs entered spring practice with the knowledge that the best quarterback, running back and receiver in program history -- Jarrett Guest, Keyon Brooks and Ryland Goede, respectively -- would all be lost to graduation, and the need to find their replacements became front and center.
Coach Caleb Carmean, who led Kennesaw Mountain to a 4-6 in 2018, said their is no replacing the type of players the Mustangs are losing, and the significant turnover on both sides of the ball will leave his squad extremely young.
A new quarterback will also have to be groomed this summer, with all-time leading passer Jarrett Guest moving on to Coastal Carolina. Guest threw for 1,810 yards, 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 2018, while also running for 448 yards and six touchdowns.
Entering the summer, Kennesaw Mountain has a wide-open competition for the starting quarterback spot that Carmean believes will be a battle between four or five players, include returning backups Luke Staggs, Chris Locurto and Dylan Dietz.
Brooks was a reliable producer on the ground and in the air as the Mustangs’ workhorse running back. He led Cobb County in rushing in 2018 with 1,590 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he finished as Kennesaw Mountain’s all-time record holder in both categories, on his way to a scholarship to play at Vanderbilt.
At running back, Carmean said Kennesaw Mountain will run a backfield by committee, with Brooks and fullback Rashaad Maynor both gone. Returning running backs Sean Frisbie, Justin Jones, Cobe Singleton and Jahson Welch may all compete for playing time.
Goede, who will be headed to Georgia this fall, suffered an ACL tear during his senior season. However, when healthy, the prototypical 6-foot-6, 235-pound tight end was a reliable target as both an in-line receiver as a wideout and finished his high school career as Kennesaw Mountain’s all-time leading receiver.
In limited action last season, Goede caught 20 passes for 261 yards and five touchdowns.
The Mustangs will likely need a new group of receivers to replace the production of Goede and speedster ZayQuan Graham, who caught 20 passes for 501 yards and four scores, but Carmean said the team will look to Xavier Rogers to produce as a senior after the slot receiver saw significant playing time last season. Others may include receivers Tyler Fields and Emmanual Johnson, or tight end Maurice Bobo.
On defense, the Mustangs will be without such key defensive pieces as defensive end Trenton Townsend, who has committed to Missouri as a preferred walk-on, cornerback Terrance Chisley Jr. and outside linebacker Ayoola Makinde.