FHSU opens up spring practice
By CONOR NICHOLL
Treveon Albert was back in Atlanta for Christmas when he received a call from third-year Fort Hays State University head football coach Chris Brown. Albert, a highly touted recruit when he entered the Tiger program two years ago as a quarterback, redshirted the 2011 season at quarterback. Last season, he flourished in a multi-purpose role as a receiver and running back. Now, Brown told Albert he would move back to quarterback.
"It was kind of a Christmas present," Albert said. "I was at home and he just called me and said, 'You are playing quarterback this year.' I just got real happy, and ran through my neighborhood back home.' "
On Wednesday, the Tiger football team, coming off a 5-6 season that included a 5-2 finish, opened spring football on a cold day at Lewis Field Stadium. The Tigers lost their top three quarterbacks from last season: starter Tarean Austin, backup Anthony Sheppard and redshirt freshman Aaron Mispagel. Sheppard graduated, while Austin was dismissed from the program. Mispagel, from Colorado, had to tend to personal matters back home. Mispagel might rejoin the program in the fall.
"He just had some things back home happen, and he had to go back for those," Brown said. "Hopefully, we can try to get him back here next fall as well, but just some family emergency back home that he had to get back for and leave this semester of school."
Albert was the starter Wednesday and is expected to start throughout spring camp.
Brown has posted a 9-13 record since he took over the Tiger program despite having near-constant change at quarterback.
Three players have started a game in Brown's two years, and compared to the rest of the MIAA, FHSU has been average at best at the game's most important position.
"You want to be your quarterback to be the guy that leads this team and keeps this team together," Brown said. "We just hadn't quite had that yet. I think with Treveon, we are going to get that from him, and he is going to be around here and stick around here, and he is going to do well in the classroom and do everything that you ask him to do, and the kids like him as well."
Albert has worked with his receivers and running backs on Wednesdays during the off-season and is well-liked and respected throughout the team. The Tigers graduated a large senior class and Albert and junior safety Michael Jordan, the only all-MIAA player back, are part of a young core.
"I am loving it," Albert said.
"I love my running backs, and I love my receivers. The main thing with me is, I am cool with everybody. That's the main thing. I just go over to his house, and his house and we just talk about football all day. We just come to the field, just me and the receiver or me and the running backs and we just throw the ball."
FHSU added a few local players for the spring, including Russell's Nash Karst, Victoria's Garrett Dreiling and St. Francis' Trent Kinen, who worked with the defense.
Karst went to Kansas State University last year, but didn't play. Dreiling was expected to play basketball last year for the Tigers, but didn't. Karst worked at running back and played well, while Dreiling was at tight end. Brown said it was a possibility that Karst could move to defense. Brown, a longtime defensive coach, is coaching the tailbacks for the first time this spring to learn more about the offense and spend time with more players.
"He came up and wanted to talk about coming out for the football team," Brown said of Dreiling. "I said, 'Yeah, let's give you a shot, I have heard good things about you. I have heard you're a good kid, you have got a great work ethic, and you want to do well and be successful.' Why not bring a kid in like that who is 6-4 or 6-5, runs pretty well."
As well, Brown said sophomore Shaquille Cooper, who played offense and defense last year, will mainly play offense. Veteran running backs Ed and Andre Smith, who took medical redshirts last year because shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively last fall, will participate in spring practice, but will likely be held out of most contact drills.