BOWLING GREEN - Footballs are being pumped and practice jerseys washed, but coach Gregg Brandon has already secured perhaps the most important item needed for Bowling Green State University's spring football practice today.
"I'm just going to show up at practice with a box of Pampers," Brandon said.
With 13 starters gone from last year's 6-5 team, the Falcons open spring drills with more positions open than secured. Brandon isn't afraid to use the R-word - rebuild - for what the spring session requires.
"These kids haven't played a lot of football, I won't sugarcoat it," Brandon said. "We really have to rebuild this whole team. We've lost a lot of really great players through the years here. There's a lot of uncertainty on both sides of the ball, a lot of inexperience as far as playing time."
BGSU will have 15 practices, the final one the spring game on April 22. The team will practice without pads today and Monday, and have its first scrimmage on Tuesday.
Graduating seniors left holes most notably at running back, linebacker and defensive line. The NFL draft opened up the most publicized position for the Falcons over the past two years - quarterback.
Sophomore Anthony Turner and redshirt freshman Freddie Barnes will compete to replace early draft entry Omar Jacobs.
"We don't have Omar anymore," Brandon said. "We know Omar can throw a lot of touchdown passes. We don't know that about our quarterbacks now."
Junior Dan Macon, who redshirted last season, comes in as P.J. Pope's successor at running back. Sophomore Bobby Thomas and redshirt freshman Chris Bullock are also in the mix.
"[Macon's] certainly doing everything he needs to do to be in the hunt for that job," Brandon said.
On defense, Brandon expects several incoming freshmen to challenge for positions on the line and at linebacker in the fall. The linebackers look to have the least experience, with redshirt freshman Cody Basler and sophomore Erique Dozier listed at the position along with returning leading tackler Terrel White.
Devon Parks, a four-year starter at defensive end, took on a leadership role in the offseason, Brandon said. Parks said he is anxious to begin his senior year.
"There are new bodies in there, and to be honest with you, there are guys that are faster, quicker, stronger than previous years," Parks said. "I see it as an opportunity to raise it to the next level."
Brandon feels most confident about his offensive line. Three-year starter Kory Lichtensteiger returns as well as Derrick Markray and Drew Nystrom.
"We've built that position up - we have 15 scholarship players," Brandon said. "We have good depth. I think that's the strength of our team. I don't know if there's anybody that's going to come in and compete at that spot."
"My coaches are a little bit apprehensive because we are going to be so inexperienced at some of the key positions. But, hey, they are all fine young men, good football players, and are ready and willing to get after an aggressive schedule in the conference as well as the non-league."
NOTES: Defensive end Diyral Briggs will sit out spring practices with a broken foot suffered when he slipped on an icy surface. Receiver Kenneth Brantley, left tackle Jeff Fink and defensive end Joe Schaefer are also missing the spring after offseason surgeries. ... Receiver Marques Parks, who broke his leg in the Oct. 22 game against Western Michigan, will participate in spring ball. ... Safety Deaudre Perry has rejoined the team after leaving the squad last season with three games to play, dealing with a medical condition, Brandon said. He enters the spring first on the depth chart. ... Junior Pete Winovich, formerly a linebacker, will line up at tight end and fullback this spring.
Two Bowling Green State University football players were charged with possession of marijuana last Saturday.
Anthony Turner, expected to be BGSU's starting quarterback this fall, and cornerback Ryan Patrick were each charged with possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana, a minor misdemeanor.
Campus police smelled marijuana coming from Patrick's 2002 GMC SUV in a university parking lot at 1:30 a.m. A plastic container holding marijuana seeds and stems was found on the floor of the car, and a bag of marijuana was found in Turner's possession.
Turner and Patrick, both 20 years old, were teammates at Dayton Chaminade-Julienne. Patrick transferred to BGSU from Ball State in January.
Turner is to appear in Bowling Green Municipal Court on April 3, and Patrick on April 5.
BGSU coach Gregg Brandon released a statement yesterday saying he would handle discipline for Turner internally and planned to use the case as "an opportunity to teach not only Anthony, but our entire team that they are going to be held to a higher standard regarding their actions."
Brandon's statement did not mention Patrick.
The Blade's Ryan Autullo and Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report.
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