Pretty much every position is available on the defensive side, but it’s not coach-speak. The Hounds graduated nine defensive starters and numerous backups. The two returning defensive starters, senior cornerback Corey White and junior linebacker Jeremy Mullins.
On offense, Howard has three positions he identified as battles:
This is a position that runs the ball away fromthe tight end and inside. The position is usually used for gaining a few yards, but Howard calls it a “muscle back” instead of a short-yardage back because either candidate is capable of big yardage.
Candidates are Fide Davalos (6-0, 202, Floyd) and Jason Jennings (5-10, 185, Fort Worth).
“Fide is really very consistent. Just a good, hard-nosed runner (with) a great, great attitude,” Howard said. “J.J. is your prototype slasher. He runs really hard. He hits the hole a million miles per hour and keeps going.
Robert Garza (6-1, 219, Idalou, Texas) is probably the starter here, but four other could see significant playing time in a deep backfield.
“We’ve got really good guys at the spot and we can only play two,” Howard said.
Former starter Sukora Cooper (5-10, 225, Dallas) returns for his senior season after battling injuries last season, and he’ll compete for playing time with Garza, Patrick Hemphill (5-8, 211, Paducah, Texas), Les Long (5-10, 215, Portales) and Marcus Robinson (6-0, 205, Irving, Texas).
Though the position is a backup position, Howard said the two players named to the positions will see time for three to four series per game. Taylor Graves (6-0, 280, Brownwood, Texas), Eric Ballard (6-4, 263, Lovington) and Jeff Ashabranner (6-3, 263, Andrews, Texas) will compete for the two spots.