Charleston Southern opened its spring practice schedule Friday afternoon at Buccaneer Field. The Bucs worked out in helmets and shorts in light rain for about two hours as they began preparations for their second season under head coach Mark Tucker.
CSU is coming off its fifth consecutive winning campaign and Tucker is optimistic that he and a staff largely intact from a year ago can build on that success in 2018.
“Consistency, growth and progress is what we want to see in spring practice,” Tucker said. “(Being my second year as head coach), we know how they’ll respond to me, what our expectations are as a staff and how well they perceive, abide and take root in those expectations. That’s all a learning process and we’re excited to keep building on what’s in place.”
CSU is slated to conduct 15 practices now through March 2. The Bucs will hold their first full-contact session Wednesday morning. Tucker believes the early timing of spring practice will benefit players and coaches alike.
“The pros outweigh the cons,” said Tucker of the decision to hold spring ball in February, just as the program did in 2015 and 2016. “Getting our spring practice in before we leave for spring break gives all the kids a nice break – a chance to go home and then come back and pick up our offseason program immediately. Our coaches get to start preparing to recruit right away too so now that we have a staff in place, its ideal.”
Among the storylines this spring will be the maturation of CSU quarterbacks London Johnson and Jack Chambers. Johnson, a redshirt junior, played in ten games last season, started three and showed glimpses of his potential. Chambers, a redshirt freshman, is expected to see increased repetitions as the Bucs’ number two quarterback.
Johnson is eager to continue to take the reins of the offense.
“It feels good being back out here for another season,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys are hyped to play because we kind of left a bad taste in our mouth last season. I’m keeping the same mentality and not getting complacent, which Coach Tuck drills into my head every day. I’m also excited for the competition with Jack. He’s eager to learn and ready to compete this year.”
Defensively, CSU graduated three-time All-American defensive end Anthony Ellis and several other key contributors but still returns a solid nucleus from a unit that has been the bedrock of the program’s success. Redshirt senior Solomon Brown, a three-time all-Big South Conference selection, is among that group.
“We are more comfortable and know what to expect being the second year for Coach Tucker and this staff,” Brown said. “Defensively, we still have a lot of talent but we’re younger. They’ve just gotta get experience so it’s important for the older guys to mentor them in the spring so they can get to Anthony’s level and make a difference for us.”
CSU will practice again tomorrow and Monday before moving into full pads on Wednesday. Most sessions will be held from 3:30-5:45 p.m.