Jamey Chadwell has a trio of goals he’d like to achieve in his first series of spring practices as Coastal Carolina’s head football coach.
They are to establish a depth chart before freshmen arrive in the fall to compete for positions, avoid injury, and perhaps most importantly, set a team identity.
He’d also like to see a favorite for the starting quarterback job emerge from a two-player competition.
“Who are we going to be on offense, defense and special teams? What’s that identity? Hopefully we get that established,” Chadwell said. “. . . Just those tangible things you hope your team is about – the toughness, the physicality, playing with unbelievable effort. So if we can get that through this spring and develop that mentality, then we’ve got plenty of time to really get our scheme stuff down.”
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The Chanticleers held the first of 15 scheduled practices on Friday, and they will culminate with the spring game on April 6.
Chadwell, who was promoted from offensive coordinator and associated head coach when Joe Moglia resigned as head coach on Jan. 18, believes this will likely be his most important spring practice during his tenure as head coach, however long it lasts.
“You’re laying the foundation of really what you want your program to be about,” he said.
The Chants enter the spring off four consecutive losses to end the 2018 season that each prevented the team from becoming eligible for a bowl and dropped it to 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the Sun Belt Conference.
“You don’t mention that,” Chadwell said. “If you won four straight, yeah you have momentum coming in, but it’s all about going forward. You never really want to look back and focus on the good or the bad because if you do, you rest and lose focus on what you need to do.
“. . . There’s a coaching change, so maybe you can use that as positive momentum.”
The starting quarterback job appears to be between two players and they’ll have a chance to establish themselves as the projected starter going into the fall.
Fred Payton (6-2, 200), a freshman from Suwanee, Ga., started four games late in the season at quarterback and completed 65 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Fellow freshman Bryce Carpenter (6-1, 205) started two of the seven games he appeared in and had a 67.3 completion percentage with five TDs and two interceptions.
They are the only quarterbacks with any experience on the roster, and there are a pair of three-star quarterbacks coming in as freshmen.
“It’s wide open. I think the first day you’ll see Fred trot out with the [first team] but then the next day I think you’ll see Bryce go out,” Chadwell said. “They both have worked pretty hard this offseason and they’re both pretty close with the competition.
“Ideally, if somebody earns it this spring and is such a clear-cut [starter], then I would like to go into the fall saying you’re the one and you’re the two. I’d like to do that if it’s possible. But that’s up to those guys. I feel good about both of them. . . . Our issue is we really don’t have anybody behind them.”
Chadwell will implement some new assistant coaches in practice. Former Furman defensive coordinator Chad Staggs is the new linebackers coach, and former Georgia State defensive line coach Skylor Magee is the new defensive line coach.
“We’re changing some schemes defensively from what we did so we brought those guys in to help with that scheme change,” Chadwell said.
Quarterbacks coach Willy Korn and running backs coach Newland Isaac begin their new roles as co-offensive coordinators, former Cartersville High School head coach Joey King is the new wide receivers coach, and Chad Scott joined the program from Charleston Southern as the director of football speed, strength and conditioning.
“We’ve not been on the field yet, but as far as the camaraderie, as far as the transition and how they’re relating to players, it’s an A-plus,” Chadwell said.
Graduate quarterback Kilton Anderson and freshman wide receiver Da’kendall (D.K.) James have added their names to the Coastal players who have entered the NCAA’s Transfer Portal.
Anderson played in nine games in 2018 and started six as a graduate student, completing 76 of 131 passes for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions.
He said he applied to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility because he missed the entire 2016 season at Fresno State due to an injury, and it was granted.
“I decided with the recent departure of head coach Joe Moglia and the waiver granted so close to spring ball, to see what other options may be available,” Anderson told The Sun News in a Twitter message. “I am very grateful for the opportunities provided by Coastal Carolina, the community support I have received and having incredible teammates that will be my lifelong friends. I will always be a Chant at heart.”
D.K. James, who redshirted as a freshman last season, sophomore running back Alex James and junior safety Jave Brown are all also still apparently in the transfer portal and aren’t likely to return.
Chadwell said Alex James of Florence entering his name in the portal was perhaps the most surprising to him. James had 59 carries for 201 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“That one was a surprise to be honest with you,” Chadwell said. “We talked about him staying and being a part [of the team] because he had a good couple years where he put himself in position to really have a good year this year. But he made a choice to maybe go somewhere else.”
Former Coastal defensive end Jeffrey Gunter has reportedly changed his commitment from Syracuse to N.C. State, according to 247sports.com. Offensive lineman Brock Hoffman is transferring to Virginia Tech.
The Chants will be looking to add up to a few players from the portal considering their losses in the quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and defensive backfield positions.
Virginia Tech grad transfer wide receiver Sam Denmark, who has two years of eligibility remaining, has signed a financial aid agreement with CCU, though it is not binding to either party, Chadwell said.
Denmark (6-0, 183), who played high school at Hanahan outside Charleston, competed on Virginia Tech’s 4x100 relay team and had just two catches in three years, including a redshirt freshman season.
“There will probably be a couple positions we’ll look at of need because of the people we’ve lost,” Chadwell said. “. . . We’ll actively look. Does that mean they’re out there? Those probably won’t happen until after spring ball.”
Former Conway High quarterback Peyton Derrick has entered the portal after playing in six games as a redshirt freshman last year for Appalachian State and completing 13 of 22 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.