Mount Pleasant head football coach Mart Graham welcomes back plenty of proven playmakers for 2013, but must replace the man pulling the trigger of the Tigers' high-powered offense.

Quarterback Montravious James will soon graduate, leaving a 4,070-yard, 53-touchdown void at the head of the Tigers' spread offense.

But two days into spring football practice, Graham is encouraged by what he's seen from the player who appears to be the next Mount Pleasant signal caller: Cullen Grubbs.

Mount Pleasant WR K.D. Cannon. (Courtesy Photo)

Graham talked about that and more with ETSN.fm after Tuesday afternoon's practice. Here's what Graham had to say about Grubbs, as well as a host of other subjects regarding Tiger football. Included in the following Q&A session are Graham's thoughts on several key returnees, including 18-offer receiver extraordinaire K.D. Cannon, widely considered one of the top two 2014 recruits in East Texas; running back Tarrence Taylor; cornerback Ladarius Craddock; and defensive end T'Nheous Smith, among others.

 

 

Q&A with Mount Pleasant Coach Mart Graham

  • ETSN.fm: How have the first couple days of spring practice been?
  • Mart Graham: It's been a lot of fun. We have more seasoned players than we've had in a while. About 13 of them are playing their third year on varsity. We've got more experience and more depth than we've had. I'm real happy. We have our moments, but I feel like we're gonna have a much stronger running game this year than what we've had.

 

  • ETSN: How are you coming along with replacing Montravious James at quarterback?
  • MG: I'm really please with how it's coming along. Cullen Grubbs (class of 2014) is doing a real good job. That was a big question mark when the spring started, but so far, so good. He's not a running quarterback, but he's 6-foot-2, 215 to 220 pounds. He's not gonna be the (running) threat that Monty was, but on the other hand we'll have a strong running game this year with more two-back (formations) and play-action. It's gonna be a complement to (Grubbs). He throws the ball really well.

 

  • ETSN: Other than finding a new quarterback, what else are you hoping to accomplish with spring ball this year?
  • MG: We're having to replace two senior safeties. One of them started three years for us and the other started two years. Defensively we've got to tackle better. We've got to tackle much better. Yesterday we tackled better than we have in five years. We had our problems today, but of course my running back (Tarrence Taylor; 5-10, 170; 2014) is much stronger than he was last year. He had a real good offseason. We've got some places to fill but the nice part about it is we've got some kids to fill those spots. I feel really good about the way things are going. I'm not gonna sit here and say we're gonna win a state championship, but I feel like we'll be better as a team this year. Last your our defense was suspect at times. Our linebackers are much bigger and quicker and our defensive line is playing well right now. We've got as far as I'm concerned the best cornerback in the district in Luke (Ladarius) Craddock, (5-9, 165; 2014) and his brother Daniel at the other corner. Then we've got K.D. Cannon (6-0, 160; 2014), Tarrence Taylor, and a couple of other young kids we're using back there at safety. We'll probably use four or five kids (at safety) during the course of a game.

 

  • ETSN: With two great seasons of varsity football under his belt, what is K.D. Cannon working on this spring to prepare for his senior season?
  • MG: Right now he's working on the 100 and 200 meters since he's running in both at the state meet. But we'll have 7-on-7 and he and Grubbs will get in sync this summer. He'll get the last two weeks of spring ball after track ends, too. Andrew Flanagan (6-1, 195; 2014) is our other senior receiver. This will be his third year to start for us. He's in baseball right now. It's really good for us to be practicing without a couple of those guys because it's giving other guys the chance to get in and get some looks. It's gonna be tough not to have K.D. after next year because he definitely makes defenses line up differently because he draws a double team and sometimes a triple team, but times like this give us a chance to get used to that. I know (Cannon) is a player and the same thing with Flanagan. K.D., he's a hard worker. He's a lot stronger than he was and he's putting on a little weight and he's still getting faster and faster. There are some people (colleges) that are taking good looks at Flanagan and T'Nheous Smith (DE, 6-2, 230; 2014). The Taylor kid, he can fly. Craddock, he can run. The great thing about having K.D. is all these other colleges are looking at him and your other kids wind up getting some looks, too.

 

  • ETSN: Who's somebody that we should keep an eye on during spring ball and looking ahead toward the fall?
  • MG: I really think that Tarrence Taylor is gonna have a big year. With K.D. having 1,597 yards receiving and Flanagan had 680-something yards, people didn't really give Tarrence as much respect. He had, I think, 876 rushing yards in nine games and he had another 220 yards receiving out of the backfield. He a 1,000-yard season. I think with the strength he's gained he's gonna be much better. I think the Grubbs kid is gonna step up and prove that he's the quarterback and he'll have a big year. T'Nheous Smith has gained about 30 points since football season end. Right now he's about 230 and he runs a 4.7. He's a 340-pound bench guy and 475 squat. He's getting some (college) looks, and it wouldn't surprise me for him to come in at about 245 in the fall. Luke Craddock had either interceptions last year and I look for Luke to have a big year. I think he'll have a big year returning kickoffs and punts, too.

 

Notable Numbers

  • 6 -- games in 2012 when Mount Pleasant scored at least 54 points (averaged 46.3 points per game)
  • 4 -- games in 2012 when Mount Pleasant allowed at least 38 points (allowed 32.5 points per game)
  • 25 -- receiving touchdowns in 2012 for senior-to-be receiver K.D. Cannon
  • 370.0 -- yards of total offense per game Mount Pleasant loses with the graduation of quarterback Montravious James
  • 7 -- interceptions in 2012 by graduating senior safety Jamald McGill
  • 7 -- interceptions in 2012 by senior-to-be cornerback Ladarius "Luke" Craddock
  • 5-0 -- Mount Pleasant's 2012 record in true road games (0-1 in neutral-site games)

 

Spring Football Stories