ALBANY — There were a lot of questions when the Albany State University football team took the field Monday afternoon for the first day of spring football practice.
Who will replace head coach Dan Land, who unexpectedly stepped down as the Rams head coach two weeks ago.
Then who will replace quarterback Caleb Edmonds, defensive lineman Grover Stewart and running back Jarvis Small?
Once Albany State took the field, those questions seemed to fade and for ASU coaches, hopefully will be answered by the time spring practice ends.
“Nobody loves Dan more than I do,” interim head coach Anthony Kelly said. “We’ve been friends forever, college roommates and best man at each other’s wedding and so forth. I miss him, but as far as what happened on the field today, it would have been like that if he had been here.”
Not a whole lot changed for the Rams, who finally hit the field after spring practice was pushed back a few weeks. Former Monroe High School standout Charles Stafford and Billy Cobb shared the reps at quarterback. The two will take all the reps, but Kelly said Chancellor Johnson also will figure into the quarterback race. Johnson is currently playing baseball.
Cobb was injured last season and didn’t play.
Another starter not participating in spring drills is former Westover High standout Mike Green. Kelly said the coaching staff wanted to give the wide receiver, who plays football and basketball, some rest.
With most of the staff (except Land) still in tact, running back McKinley Habersham said not a whole lot was different.
“We kept doing the same thing that we usually do,” he said. “Everything was the same, just Coach Land wasn’t here.”
As usual with spring practice, the defense appeared to be ahead of the offense. Kelly, who coached wide receivers under Land, said he liked what he saw on the defensive side.
“I was really impressed with the defense,” he said. ” Coach (Bokowski) Daniels had those guys running, they were motivated, they were hyped up and just really running to the ball playing defense. Those guys are in top-notch shape, and I was really excited about seeing them run the way they ran today.”
The Rams will continue practice and will hold their spring game on April 22. Kelly hopes the Rams continue to improve.
“This is when you win … you win in the offseason,” he said. “That’s always been our philosophy here at Albany State. I don’t think you can ever replace a lot of those kids (who graduated), but you have kids behind them that you have to get them ready to play. That’s just the way it is. Every team has that problem where they have lost some great guys, but you have to keep motivating kids behind them and keep preparing them well and they’ll be ready to play.”