TIGERVILLE, SC- Excitement is in the air as North Greenville University takes the field for the first day of Spring football drills Wednesday afternoon. Seventy-two student-athletes will suit up to begin preparation for the 2006 season. "We have had a good first part of the semester in the weight room and have some real good things happening," said head coach Mike Taylor. "Our guys are real excited to get out on the field."
North Greenville returns 19 starters from last year's 3-8 team. Nine of those starters are on the offensive side of the ball, led by Eric Moeller at quarterback. Moeller completed 52.8% of his passes last season, throwing for 2,124 yards and 17 touchdowns. Also leading the Crusader offensive attack with be wide receiver Travis Talbert, who caught 54 passes for 809 yards and six touchdowns in 2005. North Greenville will have to replace lead rusher and team leader Travis Mosley at running back. Of the returning running backs, Rashad Cummings ran for the most yards last season, rushing for 336 yards and four touchdowns.
The North Greenville defense returns 10 starters. The only starter lost is NCAA Division II-leading tackler Isaac Tate. The defense returns Ken Floyd to anchor the defensive line. Floyd was second on the team with 66 tackles in 2005.
With so many returning starters on both sides of the ball, North Greenville expects to fine-tune and continue to make progress. The major goal for the Crusaders this Spring is to become a consistent defensive football team. "We feel like if we can stop people, we can win," remarked Taylor.
Taylor has shuffled his coaching responsibilities around a bit. Chip Bailey moves from linebackers to the defensive line and will serve as Defensive Coordinator in 2006. Josh Phillips has moved from running backs to coach linebackers. Tony Sullivan remains coaching the defensive secondary. On offense, Taylor will remain the quarterbacks coach and Offensive Coordinator. Joe Lewis remains the wide receivers coach, but Ric Smith will move from coaching the defensive line to coaching the running backs.
North Greenville will practice through Spring Break everyday that the weather cooperates, excluding Sundays. After Spring Break, the Crusaders will reconvene March 13th. North Greenville will wrap up spring football drills with a big Spring Game on March 18th at 1:00 p.m.