The Lions football program is gearing up for another Division I season ahead of them. With the majority of their defense gone, they have holes to fill. The Lions will play 11 games this upcoming season after a great 7-3 start in their inaugural year.
The Lions hold 15 overall practices for the spring training camp. Three of the practices will be held at 6 a.m., while many of the others will be held in the afternoon after classes.
The Lions are holding their annual Purple-White game April 13 at 1 p.m. UNA will end spring workouts and practices April 18, three practices after the spring game. Willis talked of the game being played in a ‘points system’ with the lack of numbers on the defensive side.
The Lions retain 17 offensive players, 13 defensive and just two special teams players. Some big returners include quarterback Christian Lopez, wide receivers Jakobi Byrd, Cortez Hall and linebackers Will Evans, Christon Taylor. Fourteen other players that saw action last fall will have a chance at the open positions this spring.
“Just having been here as long as I have and having gone through so many springs, we are already so much further ahead as far as organization and the players knowing the playbook,” Willis said. “In Division I you have more meeting time and are around the players more so it helps you be organized when you hit the practice field. It also helps that we have all of coaches back and all know each other.”
Eight returning offensive players and only three defensive players. The Lions added over 20 recruits on the signing days combined, with just over 10 players being on the defensive side of the ball.
The Lions will play actual Division I opponents such as Western Illinois, who they will host at home for their first game of the season on Aug. 29. They will play seven Big South ASUN conference games with Campbell, Charleston Southern and Kennesaw State being some.