The third week of Spring Practice kicked off this Tuesday afternoon, and we are highlighting the safeties who will be returning all 10 players from last year.
Below is a quick glance at the makeup of the position for the Spring.
Key Returners: Teja Young (R-Sr. 5-11, 192), Armani Eli-Adams (R-Sr. 5-11, 193), Josh Moore (R-Soph. 6-2, 190), Dwight Toombs II (R-Jr. 6-1, 202), Amari Wansley (R-Soph. 6-0, 174), Carter Odell (R-Jr. 5-10, 199), Ja'Marquis Johnson (R-Soph. 6-4, 214), Peter Warrick Jr. (R-Soph. 5-10, 188), Kaelen Skipper (R-Sr. 5-9, 184), Michael Cates (R-Fr. 6-2, 180).
Key Losses: None
For the first time this spring, special teams and tight ends coach Chad Lunsford made himself available for media.
"We got a bunch of guys that really want to do a good job, we got a bunch of coaches that really work hard at it, and I love the fact that our head football coach is very hands-on," Lunsford said. "He's active in the meetings and he's active on the field, and our guys understand the importance of it."
With day seven of spring practice now over, here is the seventh of our parliament Owl position previews, beginning with three names from the safeties, and some notes from today's media availability.
Packing The Box
- Expected to Lead Teja Young: As the team's co-captain in 2022 and expected to remain there after being praised for being an extra coach on the field by staff members, Young (pictured top) showed out with strong performances in a year where he played out of position as a defensive back. In 10 games, he made 48 tackles (30 solo) and caught two interceptions to take the ball into the end-zone both times for a combined total of 136 yards. His best night was against North Texas last October when he 11 tackles (eight solo) and got an intercepted pass to score the pick-six for 64 yards. His consistency and reliability as a leader would keep him high up in the rotation. Armani Eli-Adams would be next on the list. Eli-Adams nailed career-highs with his stats last season putting together 69 tackles (42 solo) including two tackles for a loss of three yards and got one interception. He reached his career-high of tackles (11) twice against UCF and Middle Tennessee, showing off his persistence and strength as one of the best tacklers on the team.
- Keep An Eye On Dwight Toombs II: Toombs II had a career year last season. After getting limited reps during his first three years on the team, he put up his best production in his fourth making 64 tackles (37 solo) and caught a team-high three interceptions. He shined against UCF last September getting a career-high 10 tackles (three solo) and catching an interception which he ran for 49 yards with. It is likely he could become one of the team's leaders when Teja Young and Armani Eli-Adams maximize their eligibility after this year. Coming after him would be Josh Moore (pictured below). Transferring from UCLA last summer, Moore appeared in eight games for the Owls where he put up six tackles (one solo). His best night was against FIU in the Shula Bowl last November when he assisted on four tackles to contribute to the Owls' dominant win over the Panthers. With plenty of time left in his collegiate career as a redshirt sophomore, he could take advantage of what Spring Practice can give him and gain more starting reps in the rotation.
- Dark Horse Candidate Michael Cates. Riding the Owls' bench for the entire 2022 campaign after joining them that summer, Cates (pictured below) comes from Key West High School where he formerly played at wide receiver and garnered First Team All-County honors. Despite sustaining a hip injury during his sophomore year that kept him from taking part in track and field, he persevered by being a vital piece to his school's football team until he graduated in 2022. His last year with Key West saw him finish with eight receptions for four touchdowns and 238 yards. His chances of rising in FAU's depth chart might be slim, but his 6-2 frame as one of the tallest players at the position presents a scenario where he could have an advantage against shorter opponents and be beneficial to the Owls' game-plan with his catching ability having the potential to result in interceptions.
OwlBytes for March 28th
- Successful Safeties The safeties put their reflexes to use during today's session. Under the direction of safeties coach Derrick Gibson (pictured below), they timed their movement and used their strength to get past one another. Josh Moore was sharp during these drills, while Armani Eli-Adams and Carter Odell were efficient throughout the afternoon.
- Managing Special Teams and Tight Ends Keeping his positions as special teams and tight ends coach, Chad Lunsford saw himself get elevated to associate head coach once Tom Herman arrived to the program. "When I was lucky enough for Coach Herman to keep me, I knew I had an awesome opportunity to learn from him," Lunsford said. "This is another way for me to grow so I'm very appreciative of that opportunity," he said. Lunsford said running backs Larry McCammon III and Kobe Lewis have been involved with the punting unit. "Those guys are big-time players in our offense and they got big roles in our offense, and they're showing the rest of the team that special teams is just as important," he said.
Special teams and tight ends coach Chad Lunsford and long snapper Nicholas Marino headline Video Play.
The team will return to the field for Thursday's session following a break on Wednesday.