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APSU Football: New starters will carry offensive line

APSU Athletics Communications

By Stefan Nolet

APSU Athletics Communications

Throughout fall camp, LetsGoPeay.com will take a look at each of the position groups as the Austin Peay State University football team goes through preparations for the 2019 season. Today, we’ll examine the big guys up front along the offensive line. Kyle Anderton returns for his final season in Clarksville and will be joined by a mix of veterans, young players and experienced transfers who will look to continue build on the offensive successes Austin Peay has generated the past three seasons.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Get offensive line coach Eddy Morrissey talking about his student-athletes, and he lights up like a proud parent. Despite just working through a grueling practice in the August heat, Morrissey couldn’t have been more thrilled to brag on his pupils.

Governors fans will have a recognizable face manning left tackle, as Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selection Kyle Anderton returns for his final season. After starting all 12 games in 2017, Anderton was limited to just the first four in 2018 due to injury, but is a welcomed returnee thanks to the new redshirt rule.

“I think Kyle’s attitude has been great, he’s a tremendous leader, he’s bought in to what we’re selling, and he’s just been an unbelievable asset for the o-line,” Morrissey said. “He does a great job playing all five positions, really. We can move him around, and his leadership has been really unbelievable.”

After losing three four-year starters on the interior of the offensive line to graduation, this season’s front five will look quite different. Redshirt senior Hunter Schmeisser is gunning for a starting position at guard. The Brentwood, Tennessee, native has played in 27 games in his career as reserve interior offensive lineman and protector on the punt team.

Redshirt freshman Bucky Williams impressed at guard during spring ball, and looks poised to take on an important role this season, while hulking Vanderbilt transfer Darion DeBrossard will also push for time along the interior.

Junior Blake Mitchell transferred to Austin Peay prior to the spring and his big personality immediately meshed with the team. He has worked hard getting himself in shape and has taken a leadership role at the center position.

“We talk about being the best conditioned o-line in the country, and it’s not just lip service,” Morrissey said. “Blake came in and was heavy and has done an unbelievable job changing his body, getting in shape, learning the system and being an incredible leader on the o-line, along with Kyle. They’ve really been a great tandem to have.”

Redshirt sophomore Seth Johnson and sophomore Jake Kilby were pressed into starting duty at the tackle spots last year due to injuries, and enter their respective second seasons with valuable experience. Caleb Florence, another regular contributor last season, made the move to offensive tackle in the spring after starting four games last season at tight end.

“It’s been great that Caleb’s really bought in,” Morrissey said. “I think he was about 230 (pounds) in the spring, and he’s got his weight up to almost 260. He’s an unbelievable kid and he works hard. It’s hard transitioning from a tight end to o-line, but he’s really bought in and I think he has a really bright future if he keeps getting better fundamentally and technically.”

Redshirt junior Tristen Pierce and redshirt sophomore Colby McKee provide quality depth and experience after earning playing time in reserve roles last season, while redshirt junior Bryan McCann and redshirt freshman Garrett Bell will look to take the field as Governors for the first time this season.

In addition to three upperclassmen transfers, the Governors also brought in four freshman along the offensive front.

The motto for the offensive line is “Five Strong” where all five members on the field at any point in time are expected to give maximum effort and work in concert to keep the Govs’ explosive offense on track. But don’t expect Morrissey to have a starting lineup yet, and don’t be surprised to see quite a few of these talented offensive lineman taking the field during a game this fall.

“We have some transfers that are working hard learning the system, and we have some young guys that are getting back into it and really busting their tails,” Morrissey said. “Look out for all of them. We’ll rotate a ton of guys, so get used to the Five Strong playing as one and playing as a family.”

 

2019 Returnees / 2018 Stats
Kyle Anderton (R-SR.) / 4 games; 4 starts
Caleb Florence (Jr.) / 10 games; 4 starts (at tight end)
Seth Johnson (R-So.) / 10 games; 7 starters
Jake Kilby (So.) / 7 games; 2 starts
Colby McKee (R-So.) / 4 games
Tristen Pierce (R-Jr.) / 5 games
Hunter Schmeisser (R-Sr.) / 9 games
Garrett Bell (R-Fr.)
Bryan McCann (R-Jr.)
Bucky Williams (R-Fr.)

2019 Newcomers
Gavin Campbell (Fr.)
Jacob Caughell (Fr.)
Darion DeBrossard (R-Sr.)
Preston Moody (Fr.)
Blake Mitchell (Jr.)
Nate Wellington (Jr.)
Zach Yates (Fr.)

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