The hottest week of the summer so far might not have too many people thinking about football. But, football season is closer than you might think.
Mark Haslett: The Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions will begin play on September 1st, which is just about six weeks away. Here to preview this year’s team is Brock Callaway of Royse City. Yes, he’s an alumnus, so he is a fan. But he also covers the Lions professionally. Callaway is the longtime Lone Star Conference writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, and he edits his own website, LSC Scoop.com. Most impressively, he’s the color commentator for the Lions’ game broadcasts on 88.9 KETR. The most obvious difference for A&M-Commerce this season will be under center.
Brock Callaway: Well I think the main storyline to look at is the quarterback position. Obviously the Lions will be losing Harrison Stewart to graduation. He had an incredible season last year, went through the entire LSC Conference play without a single interception. So losing Harrison Stewart is going to be the big thing to keep an eye on. The good news is that the Lions have Gabe Rodriguez and Luis Perez, both, there ready. Both of these guys have been here on campus for over a year learning this program, learning this offense, and Gabe Rodriguez has actually played quite a bit this last season. He actually ran the gold-line offense for the Lions, so he’s got playing experience here as a Lion. But I think most people look at Luis Perez as the guy that will probably step in. He’s a big kid, 6’3”, 225 pounds. From everything I’ve heard, he gets rid of the ball really well, gets rid of it quick. Not a lot of chances to get to him and put pressure on him, and he’s going to be throwing to some incredible receivers. Lions return D.J. Macon, Darby Smith, and another couple of guys that accumulated 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. So a ton of experience on the outside will help that quarterback position. Nothing will help him more, though, than Richard Cooper in the backfield. Richard Cooper was last year’s Lone Star Conference Offensive Back of the Year, and he returns after running for over 1,300 yards, had an incredible season. He’ll be back as a senior, and he will be the guy carrying the load there for the Lions.
Haslett: One more name to watch on offense – a 6’6” senior from Bossier City, Louisiana, John Thomas. He missed last year due to injury, but Callaway says that Thomas looks poised to make this season a special one.
Callaway: John was one of the top tight ends in the nation coming out of high school, suffered an injury last season, only was able to play in the first game, but most of that coaching staff was telling us before the season started that he was their best offensive player on that team. And you look at the skill on that offense; that says a lot. So John Thomas will be back. That’s a name that most people don’t know, but he will play a huge role in the Lions offense this year.
Haslett: One hallmark of Lions head coach Colby Carthel’s teams is the ability to break big plays on special teams. Callaway says that this season should be no different in that regard.
Callaway: I think special teams, they’ll be breaking in a freshman kicker this year. I think there’s a couple on staff we’ll be keeping an eye on and see who wins that job. But on special teams, the main person you look at is somebody that I’m sure everybody there in Commerce knows very well, Buck Wilson. Buck had an incredible season last year on special teams. He’s one of those guys where it seems like he could do a little bit of everything. He’d run back kicks, run back punts. We saw him throw a touchdown, we saw him catch a touchdown. Buck’s just an incredible athlete and a really, really good kid from everything you hear. But the special teams, Buck Wilson is the guy to keep an eye on. He’s just an incredible talent.
Haslett: Brock Callaway previewing this year’s A&M-Commerce Lions. We’ll check back in on Thursday with a look at the defense. For KETR News, this is Mark Haslett.