Football preps for annual spring game

Sophomore linebacker Demarco Artis moves the ball toward the end zone during the 23-13 loss to Iowa State on Nov. 18, 2017. Artis will debut his sophomore season Saturday. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor football takes the field on Saturday for the first time in almost five months to participate in the annual Green & Gold Spring Game.

The Bears will have a wealth of new players on the team next season, and a few have already gained experience during spring practice.

Left tackle Jake Fruhmorgan has transferred into the program after two years at Clemson, where he started eight games on the 2016 National Championship team.

Fruhmorgan said he experienced great success at Clemson because they had a solid foundation, something he sees head coach Matt Rhule building here at Baylor.

“Coach [Rhule] has a process here,” Fruhmorgan said. “When I went to Clemson, they’re at the tail end of that process. It’s cool to see us build a foundation right now and then maybe in a couple years see a National Championship.”

Another key transfer will be senior wide receiver Jalen Hurd, who started for three years at Tennessee.

Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer said Hurd has been impressive in spring practice because of his raw physical ability.

“He’s explosive, a complete mismatch,” Brewer said. “It’s good to have someone like that on your side, and we’ve got a few of those guys, which is really helpful.”

Assistant coach Shawn Bell said spring football is important to develop the young players and establish a culture.

“You see as we get towards the end of spring ball they’ve really developed,” Bell said. “You see they get to a point where they’re understanding and that’s really going to carry over into the fall. We’re preparing to win games right now, but we’re not winning any games right now.”

Bell is new to the college coaching world, having spent 10 seasons at the high school level after playing quarterback for the Bears from 2003 to 2006. Bell spent last year as an analyst for Baylor and was promoted to offensive line coach when George DeLeone suffered a hip injury.

Bell said he learned a lot last year working with the other coaches and can’t wait to make his mark this season.

“Last year was a learning experience,” Bell said. “I wanted this opportunity and I wanted that pressure of ‘this group is under my name’. I want my offensive line group to be the best in the country. That pride is something I take a lot of joy in.”

While new players have to find their roles on the ream, returning players like junior center Sam Tecklenburg are adjusting to new roles.

Tecklenburg played in all 13 games his freshman year as a tight end but was forced to play center last season due to a lack of depth on the offensive line.

Playing at center moving forward, Tecklenburg said his first spring practice as a center has been huge for his development.

“Spring ball has been big for me,” Tecklenburg said. “I kind of got thrown in the fire last year, but these practices have been a good time for me to really work on my technique and learn the game a whole lot more from the center position.”

The spring game will provide an opportunity for offensive players to step up with many of the veteran wide receivers sitting out due to injury.

Four wide receivers, senior Chris Platt, sophomore Gavin Holmes, junior Tony Nicholson and junior Pooh Stricklin, are all still being held out of football activities for injuries they suffered last season. Junior wide receivers Denzel Mims and Hurd will be held out of the spring game for precautionary measures.

The spring game is set to kickoff at noon Saturday at McLane Stadium.