UWF football to start where they left off; spring practice in full swing

By Will Rasmussen
Staff writer

Spring football was on full display as the No. 2 West Florida Argonauts began week two of practice April 3. Tuesday was the first day of live practice for the Argos, who are looking to build upon what they accomplished last year, in what might go down as the best season in school history.

The University of West Florida went on an improbable run that ended in a 37-27 loss to Texas A&M Commerce in the Division II National Championship last season. Coach Pete Shinnick and company will host the annual Blue-White game 10 a.m. April 21 at Pen Air Field.

UWF returns 17 starters from its 2017 National Championship team. Some of the most notable returners are junior running back Chris Schwarz (874 yards, 8 touchdowns in 2017), senior wide receiver Antoine Griffin (898 yards, 4 touchdowns) and senior defensive back Marvin Conley (104 tackles, 4 interceptions).

 There are still a few missing pieces that need to be put in place before the Argonauts take on Carson Newman at home on August 30. Perhaps the biggest question this spring, is who will make a push for the backup quarterback job.

With 2017 Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year Mike Beaudry (3,215 yards, 29 touchdowns), recovering from hip surgery this spring, Kalu Onumah (R-Jr.)  and Grey Jackson (Jr.) to will look to pencil their name in at the No. 2 slot on the depth chart.

Kali Onumah (Photo by Morgan Givens)

It’s hard to tell who has a leg up this early on, as both quarterbacks are donning the green no-contact jerseys. However, there should be some good completion there moving forward. Shinnick had little to say about the position battle so far, but he likes what he sees from both guys.

“I like what I saw today, competition has improved between those two in the last few days,” Shinnick said. “They need to continue to improve and elevate their game, that’s what spring ball is all about.”

Other missing pieces of the puzzle include Jalen Spencer (14 pass breakups, 3 interceptions), middle linebacker Reggie Barnes (103 tackles), tight end Austin Blake-Smith (4 receiving touchdowns), and second team All-American John Williamson, who set the GSC single-season sack record last year with 14.5 sacks.

Spencer, Barnes and Blake-Smith have exhausted collegiate eligibility, as all three are former Division I athletes. Williamson will forgo his final year of eligibility, as he is set to earn is degree from UWF, after transferring from Nicholls State in 2015.

Again, it’s still too early to tell what is in store for the 2018 Argos, as they have only six spring practices under their belt. The future does look promising, however.

“There are a handful of guys that have turned my head,” Shinnick said. “I want to wait and see until we get into some more live situations, today was our first day of live practice.”

There are still eight practices remaining for the Argos before the spring game, all of which are open to the public. The schedule is as follows:

  • April 10: 7:20 a.m.-9:40 a.m. (full pads)
  • April 12: 7:20 a.m.-9:40 a.m. (full pads)
  • April 14: 10 a.m. (situational scrimmage)
  • April 17: 7:20 a.m.-9:40 a.m. (full pads)
  • April 19: 7:20 a.m.-9:40 a.m. (full pads)
  • April 20: TBA (helmets)

Be sure to check back with the UWF Voyager for more updates throughout the spring season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *