After several practices in 'pro pads', the University of Saint Francis donned full pads for full contact practice recently at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium and engaged in a spirited workout for nearly two hours.
Mostly sunny, dry weather prevailed for last Friday's practice followed by another full pads practice a week ago Saturday morning.
It was a good chance for USF Head Coach Kevin Donley to see what the returnees as well as several new transfers had learned in a short period of time.
Donley and his staff welcome back 18 starters including special teams 'specialists'. USF only loses three starters on the defensive side of the ball, but Donley expects competition to be intense not only this spring, but in August when the players return to prepare for the September 1 opener.
The most significant opening on the offensive side of the ball is quarterback, where Josh Miller returns to challenge for the starting job after moving to wingback last season when he returned from a shoulder injury. Miller appeared to be on track to start at QB last season before that shoulder injury in a scrimmage against Trine University changed USF plans.
Miller did complete 14-of-22 passes for 127 yards with one interception and two TDs. He also rushed 16 times for 47 yards averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
Donley expects Wesley Hunsucker to make a strong bid for the starting job after appearing in a backup role in six games, completing 22-of-38 passes (58 percent) for 281 yards and two TDs. Hunsucker came into the USF loss to Marian and guided the Cougars to their second TD of the game in the fourth quarter when he completed 8-of-13 passes for 73 yards and rushed for 25 yards.
Hunsucker's playing time will be somewhat limited this spring since he also is a starting pitcher on the USF baseball team.
Logan Rehrer, who transferred from Indiana State University after the first semester where he was a preferred walk-on, is also challenging for playing time at the QB position. In his senior season at Columbia City (2010), Rehrer led the Eagles to a 10-2 record and their first Northeast Hoosier Conference title since 1990. Rehrer broke single season records in passing with 2,508 yards on 158-of-298 (53 percent) throwing and 26 touchdown passes. He finished with a CCHS record 5,308 yards passing.
David Yoder, another significant member of the baseball team as a centerfielder, returns to challenge for the quarterback job along with Tiffin University transfer Nathan Scully.
USF is also looking for starters at center and guard on the offensive side of the ball.
Donley will be watching transfers Kevin Bush (Indiana University) and Steven Kiermeier (Arizona Western CC) to see what they can do in USF blue on the defensive side of the ball.
USF will conclude spring drills in preparation for its 15th season on Saturday, April 28 with the Blue and Black game starting at 1 p.m. on USF campus at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium.