MTSU football team eagerly reports to camp

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The MTSU football team kicked off the 2014 season with its annual preseason press conference on July 30.

The Blue Raiders reported for camp on Sunday Aug. 3, and practice begins Monday at 4:20 p.m. They will be looking to compete for a Conference USA title and another bowl berth in the program’s 100th season of football.

“Our guys are ready to go,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said. “I like the leadership of our team. We are a young team from a senior standpoint. We do not have many seniors. We have got a lot of guys that have played, but we are not a very old team. We have got to get great leadership this August. I have no doubt that we will get that. We have already gotten it since January. I like our team. I like where we are at. I like our attitude.”

Two points of emphasis that were brought up was trying to find a new quarterback to replace three-year starter Logan Kilgore, who is now in camp with the New Orleans Saints. The defense is looking to replace Seattle Seahawks fifth round draft pick Jimmy Staten,and Kenneth Gilstrap, especially from a leadership standpoint.

As for the quarterback competition, it is between a trio of players who vary in experience behind center. Sophomore Austin Grammer got some playing time last season in mop-up duty, while freshmen Brent Stockstill, who played at Siegel, and A.J. Erdely are also in the running for the job.

“Everybody is going to talk about the team needs to know who the quarterback is for rhythm and all that kind of stuff,” Stockstill said. “The first team got enough snaps with Grammer last year during practice because you rotate so much in the course of practice. I am not in a hurry. I do not think it is fair to the team to name a starter after spring practice. It is not fair to those quarterbacks. It is not fair to the team. I am going to go long as it takes to determine the guy who gives the best chance to win. To me, it is guy that is a winner, can lead this team and not turn the ball over.”

None of the quarterbacks were made available during the press conference last week, but senior wide receiver Marcus Henry and junior running back Jordan Parker made their feelings known about the quarterback competition.

“With the coaching staff, all three of them are going to be ready and prepared when the season gets here,” Henry said. “I feel that it does not really matter who my quarterback is long as you can throw the ball in my area, and it is my job to catch it. I feel that all three of them can do the job.”

Added Parker: “I have confidence in all three, There is not one that is sticking out as of now. They are all working hard for the job.”

On defense, the Blue Raiders return two of the best in C-USA last season in junior linebacker T. T. Barber and junior safety Kevin Byard. Both players were named to the C-USA Preseason first team a couple of weeks ago. Both of are ready to take more of a leadership role this season.

“Of course on defense you always have to have your wits about you,” Barber said. “Other people have played in the past so I feel that we have the experience in order to replace Staten and the other two corners (Gilstrap and Sammy Seamster).

Added Byard: With it being my third year as a starter in the program, I feel like it is my opportunity to lead. I feel honored to have the chance to lead this team and in particular the defense. Jimmy (Staten) and Logan (Kilgore) were two great leaders. Staten is one of the best leaders that I have ever seen. It is going to be tough not having them in the locker room, but there are several guys with playing experience who are capable of becoming leaders on the team this season.”

The Blue Raiders kick off the season Aug. 30 at Floyd Stadium against Savannah State at 6 p.m.

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