Season Preview Series: Part Three
Tigerville, SC – The 2014 season of Crusader football is just around the corner as head coach Jeff Farrington enters his second season at the helm of the program. Despite a sub-par 5-6 record last season, Farrington and his staff have high hopes for their sophomore campaign on the field.
North Greenville returns seven starters to an offense that averaged 412.5 yards per game and 27.9 points per game, while also returning seven starters to a defensive unit looking to mature after starting six freshmen during the 2013 season.
In Part Three of our Four-Part Season Preview Series, we look at a young defensive line that returns just four players who have seen action at the collegiate level, but have improved size and increased experience. We also take a look at a linebacker corps looking build on past success and create stability in the middle of the defensive unit.
Defensive Line: The Crusader defensive line will be a unit expecting to develop young talent throughout the spring. Junior LeeShawn Cromedy (21 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss in 18 career games) and sophomore Caleb Adkins (six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack in six games) are the unit’s most experienced players until the return of junior Antonio Barron (53 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks in 10 games in 2013) from a knee injury suffered in the team’s final game last season.
Redshirt freshmen Renwick McNeil II, Anthony Blair and Johnny Burch will each have a chance to make an impact in the trenches, while sophomore Shaquan Burney (49 tackles, three tackles for loss, one fumble recovery) makes the move to the defensive line after playing nine games at middle linebacker in the fall. Incoming freshmen Delton Bradford (6’4”, 305 lbs) and Nick Adams (6’2”, 260 lbs)) will provide an immediate size upgrade and compete for time up front.
Linebackers: Commonly an area of strength for the Crusaders, the linebacker corps is looking to replace one of its top producers with the departure of defensive captain Braelen Meredith (89 tackles, 13 tackles, for loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble). Senior Nick Rodgers (81 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack) returns to provide experience and leadership in the middle, while sophomores Sam Houston (43 tackles, two tackles for loss) and Quan Weeks (26 tackles, two tackles for loss) will also see time in the middle of the field.
On the outside, junior Taylor Anderson (39 tackles, one tackle for loss, four interceptions in 17 career games) moves from the secondary after back surgery sidelined him for the 2013 season as fellow junior Jalen Hammett is also expected to have an immediate impact on the outside. Junior Darius Custard moves from running back to linebacker to provide athleticism and depth after seeing time primarily on the special teams unit a season ago. Seniors Rashad Simmons and John Higgins also return to provide leadership and experience on the defensive side of the ball, while incoming freshman Mycheal Payden (Spartanburg, SC/Dorman High School) provides versatility on the outside and is expected to compete for playing time early on.
The Crusaders open up the 2014 season at home when they host Ave Maria University on Thursday, Sept. 4 in Younts Stadium at 7 p.m.