Spring football flying under the radar with lots of changes

CLOSE WATCH: Grambling State quarterback Noah Bodden goes through a drill as first-year head coach Hue Jackson looks on. The Tigers’ spring game is Saturday.

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

Those grinding their March Madness brackets and mulling over local college hoops hires might have missed the memo on spring football. Here is the first thing you need to know: there are more college football coaches in North Louisiana who are getting adjusted to their surroundings — and players – than those returning in the same spot they coached a year ago.

There wasn’t a move at the top at Northwestern State’s football chain of command, but Brad Laird, entering his fifth season at the helm of the program at his alma mater, did bring in plenty of new staff to Demonland – on both sides of the ball. The offensive coordinator, Cody Crill, and defensive coordinator, Weston Glaser, continue to learn names of players who the newcomers will count on come fall.

But it’s not just at the coordinator positions.

Other new NSU coaches include Beau Blair (offensive line), Kyle Washington (quarterbacks), Manny Harris (inside receivers), and Jordan Hopkins (defensive line).

“There is a different type of feel just because things are so different schematically on both sides of the ball,” said head Laird. “You do feel a sense of urgency by the guys to come out each and every day and not to waste a one.”

The Demons will have a full-scale scrimmage tomorrow at 10 a.m., and conclude spring with the annual Joe Delaney Bowl next Saturday morning at 11.

Grambling, who hired former NFL head coach Hue Jackson in December, concludes a spring shrouded in secrecy on Saturday with the annual Black & Gold Game, the first public glimpse at the Tigers’ new look.

Jackson, who is GSU’s 14th head coach, closed practices until Saturday’s game. He brought in a new staff and some big-school transfers.

They include Maurice Washington (Nebraska), Kajiya Hollawayne (UCLA), Devin Bush (Arkansas) and Micah White (TCU).

If there has been anyone busier in Lincoln Parish, it might be the new head coach for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Sonny Cumbie was hired as the program’s 34th head coach and hit the recruiting trail running, adding 26 signees and bringing in nine new assistants. He’s installing a full-throttle offense.

In Monroe, the return of former offensive coordinator Matt Kubik has changed the tenor of ULM’s spring practice. The 2021 blend of head coach Terry Bowden, an ardent FCA supporter like his dad, the late Bobby Bowden, and the colorful vocabulary of former OC Rich Rodriguez was an eclectic mix. Rich Rod bolted to take the head post at Jacksonville State and Bowden pivoted quickly to bring back the much-admired and less vocal Kubik, a former Tech QB and NSU assistant who had the Warhawk offense sizzling two years ago.

ULM was surprisingly competitive in Bowden’s first season, on the heels of a winless 2020, and knocked off Top 25-ranked Liberty as a highlight. Quarterback competition is a focal point this spring, with Rodriguez’ son Rhett following his dad to the Gamecocks.

There is plenty of new blood and high energy to go around. Now, football fan bases are left to wait and see if the changes will equate to more wins in 2022.

Photo courtesy Grambling State Athletics