The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team had an outspoken leader the last three seasons in quarterback B.J. Coleman. He wasn't the only loud voice in the locker room, but he was usually the team catalyst and conductor.
With the departure of Coleman, as well as fellow seniors Joel Bradford, Ryan Consiglio, Chris Lewis-Harris and Jordan Tippit, the Mocs have leadership voids to fill on offense and defense.
Coach Russ Huesman acknowledged that vocal leaders are good to have but added, "I'm not sure who we've got that's made that way."
The Mocs have loads of all-conference (or better) talent on defense. Linebacker Wes Dothard was named All-Southern Conference and All-American in 2011; defensive end Josh Williams has been among the best in the SoCon since he started as a true freshman in 2009; defensive backs Kadeem Wise and D.J. Key are two of the SoCon's best all-around players, and Chaz Moore is getting there.
Yet of that group, only Moore is much of a talker. Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller and Huesman said being quiet is fine as long as the guys are making plays and leading by example.
"I don't think you need a vocal guy," Fuller said. "I think you need somebody that shows up when things aren't going good. Leaders are, it's fourth-and-1 and D.J. Key stops Terrell [Robinson] a yard short. That's what people look at. ... I think we do have some leaders and I think the vocal stuff, in my opinion, is overrated."
Offensively, the Mocs have veterans such as offensive linemen Adam Miller and Austin Wilson and running backs J.J. Jackson and Chris Awuah. Robinson showed leadership potential, more through actions than words, while filling in for Coleman last season.
"I've definitely got to grow as a vocal leader," Robinson said. "I've always been the type of leader that shows what he can do and not talk too much. At South Pittsburg I really didn't talk a lot, but to go to the next level as a quarterback, you've got to be a vocal leader."
A GOOD START
UTC has completed six of its 15 spring practices. The Mocs are off for spring break and will resume practice on March 19. Huesman said he's been pleased with what he's seen from his team thus far.
"Defensively we're fine and offensively I think we're coming around," he said. "I think we've got good players on offense and we should be pretty good."
Backup offensive lineman Devin Caldwell (knee) and backup defensive tackle Michael Slowey (elbow) sustained injuries in Wednesday's scrimmage. Both should be back before the end of spring practice, Huesman said.
Tight ends Faysal Shafaat (back) and Jarrod Coleman (ankle) have been held out of practice so far, but Huesman said Shafaat could start participating after spring break. Coleman is still a few weeks away from being cleared.