November 20, 2017

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New-Look Lion Defensive Line Enters 2017 With High Hopes

HAMMOND, La. – The first week of Southeastern Louisiana football fall practice has felt much different that in recent years for Lion defensive line coach Brandon Lacy.
In 2016, Lacy, who also serves at the team’s assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator, entered with a senior-laden group that had seen plenty of experience.
The 2016 SLU defensive line entered last season with a combined 77 games played in a Lion uniform. This year’s group has combined to play in 31 with 11 of those played by senior Abraham Freeman at linebacker last season before making the switch to defensive end.
Despite the lack of experience, Lacy is encouraged by the talent he has to work with and the potential of his talented, if unproven, charges.
“All of these guys are high-energy and have already shown to be students of the game,” Lacy said. “We’ve used the early part of fall to establish the physicality we need to play with each and every time out. This group is more technically sound than we’ve been recently and that’s obviously a good base for us to build on.”
Lacy also acknowledged that the excitement of working with a fresh group also comes with some challenges.
“We’re learning, so obviously we’re making a lot of mistakes, but the important thing is we’re not repeating the same mistakes the next day,” Lacy commented. “We’re taking steps forward each practice and as long as week keep getting a little better each time out, we should get where we need to be.”
 “We have a diverse skill set with this group and we may have better depth because we have guys who all excel at different things,” Lacy said. “We want to continue to fine tune our skills, get experience in the system and be fundamentally sound.”
Lacy was quick to point out many names that he thinks could be in the mix for playing time come the Sept. 2 season opener at UL Lafayette.
“Jon Miller and Imani Mitchell were both January signees for us and had excellent springs,” Lacy said. “Those two remind me a lot of (former All-Southland Conference defensive linemen) Jacob Newman and Greg Triay, so if we can get them to play at that type of level that would be huge for us. Fred Brown is a new guy who transferred from Purdue and is powerful and athletic.”
Several holdovers from last season also are expected to have bigger impacts with increased playing time.
“Greg Hardaway and Kurrell Vaughn both saw spot time last year and have done a great job of trying to get better each time out,” Lacy said. “Ron Cherry redshirted last season and is maybe our most physical player and plays with an edge that we like. We expect Abraham to be a wild card for us. He’s one of our strongest guys and with him being lighter, he has the speed to go with his strength.”
The present and the future seems to be bright for the Lions up front, as Lacy singled out three freshmen that he believes will benefit from playing time early in their career.
“Feletoa Ailua is raw, but has the physical size to be a factor right now,” Lacy said. “As we continue to work him we think he’s going to be a huge impact player for us. Tainano Gaulua is another guy who we think is destined for really big things. Noah Vance is an extremely smart young man and his intelligence is going to have him ready to be in the mix.
“We’re going to have a lot of guys competing for playing time,” Lacy concluded. “We’re hoping to be able to come at people in different waves. If we get everyone on this group on the same page, we’re going to have a very good rotation.”
The Lions were back under the lights for the fourth straight night on Friday. Southeastern will back on the turf on Saturday for a 7 p.m. practice in Strawberry Stadium.
2017 Southeastern Louisiana Football Fall Camp Schedule
Aug. 5 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 6 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 7 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 8 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 9 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 10 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 11 – Practice – 7 p.m.
Aug. 12 – Scrimmage – 7 p.m. | Kickoff Appreciation – 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Aug. 14 – Practice – 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 15 – Practice – 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 16 – Practice – 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Practice – 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 18 – Practice – 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 19 – Scrimmage – 7 p.m. | Media Day – 2 p.m.
Aug. 20 – Practice – 7 p.m.

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