Like any head football coach who’s in his first season Kansas Wesleyan’s Matt Myers has a mile-long list of matters to tend to and deal with on a daily basis.
Finding 22 players capable of filling starting roles for the Coyotes’ in their opener against Friends on September 3 at Graves Family Sports Complex doesn’t appear to one of them, though.
“We have enough depth to go two groups at a time,” Myers said Saturday. “It’s the most depth we’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
That’s saying a lot for a program that notched 62 victories during his six seasons as an assistant coach before he was promoted in December and is a testament to the belief Myers and his staff have in this year’s team.
“The guys have been picking up really well,” he said in advance of a scrimmage Sunday that’s scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Graves Complex. “We’re practicing more efficiently than in the spring for sure. They’re catching on to the tempo of practice and what we want them to look like in and out of periods and plays.”
Myers is working with a squad of 141 that avoided some of recent heat by practicing at night.
“It’s been fun, it’s been exciting for me,” said senior quarterback Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio). “Just coming in and staying consistent. Practice has been going well, it’s been very exciting trying to build the chemistry with the guys and go into week one prepared.”
The depth has expectedly created stiff competition in practice – a coach’s dream scenario.
“The depth can change daily and everyone’s fully aware that if you take practice light or you’re not fully focused and locked in stuff can change pretty quickly,” Myers said. “The other side of that is us getting guys to play with different sets of units – defensive line with different linebackers and backers with different safeties so that communication can be ironed out.
“Hopefully everyone I put in a jersey is ready to play on Saturday and they’re fully capable and we’re fully confident with everyone on our sideline.”
Nowhere is KWU’s depth more evident than at running back and wide receiver. Myers said six running backs are in the mix – three returning players (Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.), Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas), Steve Harvey) and three newcomers (Jerrian Anderson (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.), D’Heaven Domena (FR/Charlotte, N.C.), Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.)).
“We’ve got a lot of bodies to figure out,” he said.
Three wideouts return (Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.), Patton Germann (SO/Salt Lake City, Utah), Jacquante Pitts (JR/Miami, Fla.)) and are joined by two newcomers (Rhadarious Lomax-Spivey (FR/Aurora, Ill.) and Woody Banks (SO/Lewisville, Texas)) and a quasi-newcomer – Paden Hazuga (SR/San Diego, Calif.), who played and was productive for KWU during the 2020 season.
The offensive and defensive lines are equally deep – 18 offensive linemen (four returning starters) are battling for jobs while seven defensive linemen return from last season. Myers also lists six linebacking candidates.
“To put a jersey on Saturday for us will an accomplishment and a privilege,” he said.
White replaces Isaiah Randalle in the starting lineup and is coming off of a strong performance in the spring scrimmage. Playing a back-up roll last fall wasn’t easy but is paying dividends now.
“Being behind Isaiah was a challenge but to have some of that experience last year really helps going into this year,” White said. “The offense is very similar so that’s prepared me a lot me a lot and it’s shown that I’ve learned the offense and it’s coming along well.
“Building chemistry with the guys is a big part of it. Me and Macon grinded over the summer and that chemistry is there.”
White, a transfer from Langston before the 2021 season, said practicing against Wesleyan’s defense is difficult and beneficial.
“Those guys are probably one of the best defenses we’ll play against the KCAC,” he said, “so practicing against them every day gets me prepared for anybody.”
“Tony’s ripping balls in there and has looked really good,” Myers said of White, who’s listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. “If I can get him to pull the ball down and take off and run the defense is going to be in trouble.”