Spring Football Preview: Longview Replacing Large Senior Class, As Usual
John King has grown accustomed to graduating big senior classes during his nine-year head coaching tenure at Longview.
But it never gets any easier, he said.
“It’s a good problem to have during the fall and a bad problem to have during the spring,” King said of having large senior classes.
Entering the start of spring football, King must replace a boatload of seniors, as usual.
King will have TCU-committed defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (6-1, 275; 2014 class), as well as safeties Stephan Maxey (5-11, 186; 2014) and Travin Howard (6-0, 179; 2014), but the Lobos lose a slew of veteran playmakers. Longview’s top five tacklers — linebacker DeMarkus Lathan, linebacker Torean Sheppard, safety Corey Bartley, tackle Cornelius Williams, and end Jalen Porter — graduate next month. So do sacks leader Tre Allen and cornerback Nakia Brown, who returned four punts for touchdowns in 2012.
ETSN.fm caught up with King on Monday afternoon to discuss what everyone should expect from the Lobos during spring football, which starts Wednesday for sophomores and juniors before Friday’s first full program spring practice. Longview’s Green-White spring game is Friday, May 17 at a time to be determined.
Q&A with Longview Coach John King
- ETSN: You’re accustomed to losing players en masse virtually every offseason. How will you approach replacing the veterans you lost, particularly on defense (Lathan, Sheppard, Bartley, Williams, etc.)?
- John King: We lost a lot of really good players on defense. We had some very talented guys that were backing them up and we’ve made a few position changes with a couple of those guys to try to develop some starters and gain some depth. We’re accustomed to losing about 40 seniors a year. That speaks volumes about where you program is. But as long as the numbers continue to be where they’ve been, I think finding a new crop of starters on defense won’t be too difficult.
- ETSN: You had several younger players gain key experience last season because of different factors, such as the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Bivins Caraway in the season’s first game. How much will that experience help players such as quarterback Dezmond Chumley (6-0, 188; 2015), tailback JaMycal Hasty (5-9, 184; 2015), and others as they really step into leadership roles on offense?
- JK: The biggest difference you’ll see is a more mature quarterback who’s been exposed to a complete year of varsity football. He’s so much more developed now than he would’ve been had he not played. Then we’ve got JaMycal Hasty and Petey (L’Darrius Peterson, 5-7, 150; 2014) and Dorian Leonard (6-4, 198; 2014), guys that are coming back that have varsity experience that are very talented players at their positions. We’re gonna ask those guys to do a lot more this year because they’ve been exposed to varsity football for an entire season already.
- ETSN: You mentioned Dorian Leonard, who has offers from Florida State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Texas, Texas Tech. With him and classmates such as tight end Jordan Whitaker (6-3, 190) and receiver Chris Pellum (5-10, 165), plus 2015 prospect Antonio Carter (6-2, 174), does this receiving corps have as much potential as any you’ve had entering a spring football session?
- JK: Yeah, they’re as high as what we’ve had. Very talented. They’ve got some room for improvement, too. Spring football will be important for a lot of those guys. Dorian is the marquee name, but I think some of these other guys will have a chance to get evaluated by some colleges and see themselves getting some scholarship offers.
- ETSN: Three names you’ve mentioned as guys who could emerge as key players are offensive lineman Broderick Washington (6-2, 285; 2015 class), linebacker Jaylon Jackson (5-11, 197; 2015), and cornerback Chris Coby (6-0, 155; 2014). Who else should we expect big things from this spring and fall that we may not know about right now?
- JK: I think those are probably the three biggest. We all feel like they’re gonna be really good. Landry Pepper (5-7, 255; 2014) on the offensive line, whether it be at center, guard, or tackle, somewhere. Not a lot of people evaluate the offensive line like I do, but for our team’s production we’ve gotta find guys like that. Defensively, Khalil Williams (safety, 5-11, 162; 2015). We’d love for him to have a big spring. Roman Brown (5-7, 160; 2014) at linebacker. There’s some key pieces to the puzzle that need to step up and have good springs and prove that they’re gonna be able to contribute all over this football team, from the deep snapper to the holder on our extra-point unit, all those things.
- 136 — combined tackles in 2012 by 2014 safeties Stephan Maxey and Travin Howard
- 742 — combined 2012 rushing yards by returning backs JaMycal Hasty, L’Darrius Peterson, Jeremy Powell, and Deionte Wall. Hasty led that group with 338 yards and five touchdowns. Longview must replace 1,253-yard rusher Tory White, who signed with Lamar, as well as fullback Antonius Sanders, who had almost 600 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns.
- 1,188 — passing yards in 2012 by 2015 prospect Dezmond Chumley, who enters the spring as Longview’s starting quarterback
- 11 — departing seniors who signed to play college football: DE Tre Allen (Tyler Junior College), S Corey Bartley (Texas A&M-Commerce), CB/PR Nakia Brown (Navarro College/Texas A&M-Commerce), QB Bivins Caraway (ULM), TE Colin Jeter (Air Force), LB DeMarkus Lathan (Tarleton State), DE Jalen Porter (Iowa Central Community College), LB Torean Sheppard (Tarleton State), WR Justinn Spady (Texas A&M-Commerce), RB Tory White (Lamar), DT Cornelius Williams (Navarro/Texas A&M-Commerce).
- 17 — spring practices before the May 17 spring game
- 2 — spring scrimmages prior to the May 17 spring game: Friday, May 3, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; Friday, May 10, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.