New Bradwell Institute head football coach Greg Hill got a glimpse of his football team last week as the Tigers finished their first week of spring practice.
The former Georgia Southern quarterback and high-school assistant coach mingled with the players, taking a hands-on approach to coaching as they ran offensive plays.
Hill, who led the Eagles to the 1999 Division I-AA national championship, paid particular attention to a pool of potential quarterbacks, instructing them the position’s fundamentals.
“We don’t have a starting quarterback coming back this season, so one of the main things is to find that guy, and we have a lot of guys competing for the position,” he said.
Former Tiger quarterback LaBaron Anthony graduated and is headed to West Alabama on a football scholarship. During his time at Bradwell, Anthony helped re-develop the passing game, which had been nearly non-existent since Wilson Brown graduated after the 2009 season.
During his senior year, Anthony was 73-for-134 passing for 682 yards, which allowed the Tigers to dip their toes into triple-option plays.
True to his days as an Eagle, Hill will continue to develop and implement the triple-option at Bradwell.
“We look to establish the run, and off of that comes the play-action pass,” he said. “The run opens up the pass, so if we can run the football we will run it, but when we have the opportunity to hit them over the top, we will. In order to run the option … it’s about having quick hands and quick feet … and while they are stepping on the mesh, they have to also keep their eyes on the read because he is going to tell them what to do.
“Right now, the guys want to look back at their running back … they have to trust that their fullback is going to hit the same track every time and keep their eyes on the read and be ready to make a decision by the time the ball reaches that front foot … I mean, you are not going to know what’s happening unless you look at it … you have to see the read key in order to know what to do.”
During recent drills, Hill often stepped in to take snaps and run plays with the athletes, mentoring every step of the way. He said he was glad to see a large group of players try out for the quarterback spot.
“During the season, and with our style of offense, we are going to need to have some depth … and competition pushes those guys to elevate their play, so I think it’s good to have a lot of guys in that spot,” Hill said.
It appears the Tigers have a respectable numbers of potential players overall.
“We have over 100 — 109, to be exact — and we still have a few potential players in track right now. But we’ve had some good participation,” Hill said.
He said there are around 20 seniors and a lot of juniors coming back for the season. “And with those juniors, we have two years to work with them, which is great,” he said. “The seniors, hopefully they will step up and be the leaders that we need them to be and help guide the way for the younger guys.”
It also appears that the Tigers almost have a whole new coaching staff.
Former Liberty County High School defensive coordinator Derek Sills, a GSU alumnus, now is BI’s defensive coordinator. Leonard Hall, who also coached at Liberty last year, moved over to BI as well.
Hill brought in four assistant coaches in addition to Sills. David NeSmith, a former head coach at Portal, coached at Statesboro High with Hill. Swainboro High’s Chris Couch, whose brother coached at GSU, is another addition. Chris Johnson, a former GSU wide receiver and teammate of Hill’s, and Chris Shutts, a former military man whom Hill said will help bring discipline, also are new to the Tigers.
Scott Akin, Brent Nobles and Duane Johnson are familiar faces returning to the coaching staff.
The Tigers’ regular season starts Aug. 29 when they host Liberty County.