Spring football drills have allowed several young players to display their talents, Pittsburg State coach Tim Beck said Wednesday as the session of 15 practices draws to a close.
“We’ve got a lot accomplished,” Beck said. “We just feel like there have been a lot of new kids who have stepped up.”
Players battling for a spot on the Gorillas’ depth chart will get one final chance to impress coaches before the fall as Pittsburg State’s annual Spring Game is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Pittsburg State returns nine players on each side of the ball who had at least five starts for last year’s 10-2 team that was just shy of making the NCAA Division II playoffs.
But there are at least a couple of spots where the Gorillas are looking to fill. Four-time All-American linebacker Nate Dreiling and three-time All-American wide receiver and return man John Brown were both lost to graduation.
Dreiling led the team in tackles with 109, including 71 solo tackles, as a senior. The Gorillas do return linebacker Tyler Disney, who was second with 101 tackles in 2013.
“A lot of people are wanting to know who will take Nate Dreiling’s spot,” Beck said. “We’re not 100 percent settled there, but Spencer Brown (5-11, 204, so.) has had a really nice spring. Eric Brantley (5-11, 189, jr.) has done a good job. Colby Hall (5-10, 192, jr.) has had a good spring, along with Blake Woellhof (6-2, 210, jr.). We still have three or four guys there who are competing. There’s no question Tyler Disney (6-1, 214, sr.) will be a starter at linebacker.”
Brown, who is expected to be selected in the NFL Draft next month, led the Gorillas with 1,951 all-purpose yards in 2013. He hauled in 61 receptions for 1,198 yards and 14 touchdowns.
However, Beck said he feels good about the receivers he returns. Gavin Lutman (6-4, 201, sr.) had 36 catches for 568 yards and four touchdowns. Marquise Cushon (5-10, 156, jr.) recorded 23 receptions for 402 yards and three touchdowns.
“Even when John was here, we really distributed the ball pretty well,” Beck said. “We got the ball to a lot of different people. Obviously, John had some great games for us ... In the system, there were a lot of guys who got a lot of action. We have everyone back except for John and then the addition of Andre Taylor (5-9, 178, jr.) and Austin Panko (6-0, 177, fr.), who got hurt the early part of last year, we have pretty good depth at the receiving corps.”