ATHENS — The Concord University football team has begun spring practice with the workout period ending April 21 with the spring game at Callaghan Stadium, making a team overview in order.
In 2017, Josh Zettergren served as Concord’s quarterback coach. During the offseason, Zettergren also assumed the role of offensive coordinator.
Concord returns eight players that saw action in at least half of CU’s 11 games during the fall, led by a trio of offensive linemen, rising seniors Derek Dressler and Jack Skidmore, as well as rising sophomore Nathan Toney, who started all 11 games for the Maroon and Gray.
Rising junior wide receiver Brandon Plyler also started every game at wide receiver, while Tywan Pearce was a starter in all 11 games during his true freshman season.
Adam Fulton took over as CU’s quarterback during the fourth game of the season. After splitting carries during his first two seasons as a Mountain Lion, JaVaughan Burrus is the featured running back for Concord this spring. Rising sophomore Isaiah Bowman also saw significant action during his first season in 2017.
Plyler was Concord’s leader in receptions during the 2017 campaign as he hauled in 32 catches and three touchdowns. For his career, the Fort Mill, South Carolina native has over 650 yards receiving and six touchdowns. While Pearce left his mark on the return game, he also had 23 catches in 2017 to go along with two touchdowns.
Despite splitting touches three ways last season, Burrus still accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense. In two seasons at CU, Burrus is averaging four yards per rush on 111 carries.
The trio of Dressler, Skidmore and Toney have combined for 46 starts in their careers with Dressler starting 22 consecutive games and 24 overall for the Mountain Lions. Dressler will enter his second season as CU’s starting center after playing at guard during his freshman and sophomore years.
Fulton’s first career start came at Notre Dame, where he threw for 174 yards and a touchdown. The Knoxville, Tenn., native’s best game came against nationally ranked Shepherd, as he racked up 244 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in 34 pass attempts.
The Concord University football team continues its spring practice period with the workouts ending April 21 with the spring game at Callaghan Stadium.
During the offseason, former Concord defensive back and assistant coach Kevin Elliott returned to CU after a graduate assistant stint at Louisville to be the defensive coordinator at CU in 2018. In his first spring back at Concord, Elliott will have six starters returning for the Mountain Lions.
Concord welcomes back three linebackers: rising seniors Andrew Jakubowsky and Zach Malone as well as rising junior Ty Walker. Rising senior Justin Noble will be the lone returner on the defensive line. In the defensive backfield, rising junior Ke’Shawn Hall and rising sophomore Jonathan Roebuck also return for CU.
Malone is coming off back-to-back 100-tackle seasons—just the fourth Concord player to rack up 100 or more tackles in two or more seasons. The Charleston native has combined for 214 tackles during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. In his first season at CU, Jakubowsky amassed 52 tackles, finishing fourth on the team. Walker was responsible for 34 tackles, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick in nine games in 2017,
Noble anchors the defensive line for the Mountain Lions after tallying 45 tackles and five sacks last season, including three of Concord’s 10 sacks in a win over UVa.-Wise.
Although losing All-American cornerback Jeremiah Johnson in the defensive backfield, Hall and Roebuck both played in 10 games last season. Hall accumulated 45 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during his sophomore season.
Meanwhile, Roebuck became the second player in program history to return two interceptions for a touchdown in the same season. The Leesburg, Virginia native made his collegiate debut by returning a pick for a touchdown against West Virginia Wesleyan, and ran an interception back for six points in a victory over UNC-Pembroke.
The Mountain Lions have just two running backs in spring workouts. Rising junior JaVaughan Burrus split carries with Nick Loftin and Jamal Petty each of the last two seasons, but the duo has exhausted their eligibility, leaving Burrus as the most experienced rusher in the CU backfield this spring.
Burrus has amassed nearly 450 yards on 111 carries, an average of 4 yards per rush in his first two seasons in the Maroon and Gray. Additionally, the Woodbridge, Va., native has added 18 receptions and 173 receiving yards in his career.
In 2017, Burrus ran for a career-best 87 yards on just eight carries against West Liberty. His lone touchdown also came on the road on a goal-line rush at Glenville State.
Joining Burrus on the running back depth chart for spring drills is first-year running back Zayvion Lawson, who was a high school standout at Greenbrier East in Lewisburg, before taking time off from football after graduating in Spring 2016.
The Mountain Lions return three starters at linebacker, including rising senior Zach Malone, who is coming off back-to-back 100-tackle seasons—one of four players to accomplish the feat in program history. Malone added a sack and a forced fumble during the 2017 season. Additionally, Malone finished second in the Mountain East Conference in tackles last season with 106.
Fellow rising senior Andrew Jakubowsky racked up the fourth-most tackles on the Concord defense last year with 52 stops in his first season in the Maroon and Gray after being a junior college transfer.
Rising junior Ty Walker accumulated 34 tackles, a sack, four pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and blocked a kick in nine games in 2017.
Also running with the linebackers during spring practice is Bryant Grubb, Alec Henderson, Dillon Howie, Tyler Jones, Dwain Porterfield and Bennie White.
Grubb, Henderson, Porterfield and White all saw action last season. Henderson had seven tackles in six games, while Porterfield had five tackles in four games. Grubb and White were both key contributors to CU’s special-teams units.
Howie and Lester were both redshirted last season as freshmen and will be going through spring practice for the first time as Mountain Lions.