Hawk Schrider prides himself in being able to adapt.
It's been a long road from Berkeley, Calif., to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for the 6-foot-3, 230-pound football player. His path took a one-year detour from California to the University of Richmond before his transfer to UTC prior to 2016 spring practices.
He sat last season out and accepted a move to defensive end, where he was planning on competing for playing time until former Mocs coach Russ Huesman left UTC to take the head position at — coincidentally enough — Richmond. In came new coach Tom Arth and his staff, and suddenly Schrider is back at linebacker, where he played in all 13 games as a freshman at Richmond and recorded 12 tackles.
"Last year was real good for me," Schrider said last week. "Being behind guys like Keionta (Davis), Vantrel (McMillan), even Justin (King) was good, because I really tried to take last year as a chance to get stronger, smarter and soak everything in from them."
He's been running with the first-team defense at outside linebacker this spring. The Mocs' scheme is different from the one used by the Spiders when Schrider was there, but he said it suits his leaner body type and allows him a lot more freedom when he's on the field.
"This one is much more complicated, but it's been so great," he said. "I get to do so many things — rush the A-gap, cover the flat, come off the edge. There's such a variety that I think it's going to benefit me, because when you're at defensive end, the tackle knows he has to block you, but when you're running all over the field, they don't know where you are, so I've been having a lot of fun with it. The adjustment has been good for me."
Schrider hasn't played in a game since December 2015. His grandfather died in the time since, and in a tribute he decided to go by his middle name. Schrider had always gone by his first name, Ben, and he didn't like the name Hawk as a kid, but it's obvious he has grown into it — another sign of adaptation.
UTC's staff raves about Schrider's attention to detail. Outside linebackers coach Demarcus Covington calls it a "zoom focus" and spoke about all the little things he does on the field or the sideline. Arth felt compelled to single out the sophomore at a recent practice.
"He's kind of set a standard for out team in terms of focus, how locked in he is; every meeting, every second of practice," Arth said. "I've never seen anything like that from a player. He's so focused on what's going on with the calls and his understanding of everything and his responsibility.
"It's been exciting to see, and he has set a great example not only for his group but really for the entire team."
Mocs add transfer
A final piece to the team's 2017 puzzle was added over the weekend when fullback Chris Jones, a graduate transfer from Arkansas, announced he would play his final college season with the Mocs.
The 5-foot-11, 249-pounder was at the second practice session this past Saturday and committed Sunday.
"Royalty can't buy you loyalty #mocspeed," Jones tweeted. "Even in my darkest hour God remains faithful! Proud to be a Moc!"
Jones appeared in 10 games during his Razorbacks career, playing at fullback and on special teams. He didn't generate any offensive stats, but he made tackles against UT-Martin, Ole Miss and LSU during the 2015 season.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.