GVSU Lakers showcase deep roster at spring game

By Bryce Derouin | 4/14/13 6:15pm


GVL / Robert Mathews
2013 GVSU Spring Football Game

by Robert Mathews / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Over 500 people attended the 2013 spring football game, but come this fall, the Grand Valley State University football team will have a different look compared to the team that was on the field Saturday.

“It was an interesting spring,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “We had double digit guys that are going to help us in 2013 that didn’t take a rep.”

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews Junior Jeff O'Brien warming up alongside senior starter Isiah Grimes

Among those that didn’t take part in the spring, included junior quarterback Heath Parling, senior cornerback Reggie Williams, and junior running back Chris Robinson. All three are recovering after undergoing ACL surgeries.

Fall practices begin on Aug. 13, and Mitchell hopes to have all three ready to go by then.

“For me, I want them to be able to do everything and not have any restrictions heading into camp,” Mitchell said. “Right now, those guys are on track for that.”

While Parling has been recovering, junior quarterback Isiah Grimes has taken the first team reps and is preparing himself just in case Parling isn’t ready to go for the Sept. 7 season opener against Azusa Pacific University.

“I’m just doing the same things that I would be doing if I was in the same situation as last year,” Grimes said. “I’m just looking at it as more of, if I have to be in the situation, just step up in the leadership position if I have to.”

The spring game was conducted more like a practice, but the offenses and defenses went in a live scrimmage against each other in the final 20 minutes of the practice.

A couple key players were missing due to taking part in spring sports. Senior Matt Armstrong, who Mitchell touted as the team’s top offensive lineman, didn’t partake in spring activities since he is a member of the track and field team and sophomore Jamie Potts is playing baseball.

“Most of the guys that didn’t take reps, we know they can play based on 2012,” Mitchell said.

With numerous key players missing, it has allowed Mitchell and his staff to get a better look at younger players and guys that are deeper on the depth chart. However, with that, the starting lineups haven’t been able to develop any continuity.

“I think it was really good for evaluating our talent and seeing who can contribute and set our depth chart heading into 2013,” Mitchell said. “In terms of our starters on both sides of the ball working together, there wasn’t any of that because of the number of starters being out.”

With so many players missing, Mitchell has seen a number of guys step up and take advantage of their opportunities and reps in practice. Both sides of the ball have had their own fair share of surprises.

“From the offensive standpoint, a guy that played some, but has really stepped up his game is Joe Worth, the tight end – he really had a solid spring for us. Ben Hutchins had a really good spring. Kevin Vicari did today what we’ve been seeing in spring ball. He doesn’t look like much, but makes a lot of plays.

Defensively, our mid-year transfer Frank Boenzi at the nose guard position is gonna help us. DeVonte Jones, forced into action last year as a sophomore – had as good a spring as anybody on the defense in the corner position.”

Despite missing key players from spring practices, the team remains optimistic about the upcoming 2013 season, where they will attempt to end a two-year playoff drought.

“We’ve been excited to practice even though it’s been cold,” Grimes said. “I feel like we’ve been getting way better throughout the spring, so I’m excited. I think we’ll be pretty good.”


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