Spring practice remains a testing ground for Madison County with newcomers at some positions and coaches experimenting with different players at other spots.
Raider coach Randell Owens noted “big surprises” at receiver with Patrick McCrary and Bradley Raines, a pair of rising seniors on the basketball team, donning pads for the first time.
“They’ve shown a lot of ability to catch on to what we’re doing pretty fast and (they’re) not shy of contact,” Owens said. “(They’re) catching the ball well.”
Coaches have also tinkered with rising senior Jamal Cooper at running back, trying to put his track speed to use in the backfield. Cooper, who played wide receiver last year, clocked a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash during a combine at the Georgia Dome.
“I said, ‘Let’s see what he can do at running back,’” Owens said. “Just hand the dang ball to him.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the coach notes the competition brewing throughout the linebacker corps.
“We’re kind of having tryouts there to see who’s going to step up,” Owens said.
Owens called Donovan Carey “probably the most consistent” of the mix, while pointing to interesting battles at middle linebacker — where he says the job “is just open-season” — and bandit linebacker.
One of the biggest challenges of the spring has been giving everyone a look.
Participation swelled to around 100 rising sophomores through seniors last week, before dropping to 87.
“This spring has been the most people we’ve had out there since I’ve been here,” Owens said.
That’s been both good and challenging.
“It’s just hard to look at that many people,” Owens said.