Football: Partridge highlights depth at Media Day

With a week of camp left, many positions are still wide open for the new-look team.

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Football: Partridge highlights depth at Media Day

Head football coach Charlie Partridge speaks to the assembled media during media day, highlighting the team's progress from last season through training camp this year. Photo by Mohammed Emran| Staff Photographer

Head football coach Charlie Partridge speaks to the assembled media during media day, highlighting the team's progress from last season through training camp this year. Photo by Mohammed Emran| Staff Photographer

Head football coach Charlie Partridge speaks to the assembled media during media day, highlighting the team's progress from last season through training camp this year. Photo by Mohammed Emran| Staff Photographer

Head football coach Charlie Partridge speaks to the assembled media during media day, highlighting the team's progress from last season through training camp this year. Photo by Mohammed Emran| Staff Photographer

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

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After two weeks of camp, head football coach Charlie Partridge told attendees of Florida Atlantic football’s media day that the amount of talent at some positions is causing competition to continue into the season.

“We’re continuing to build the depth chart,” Partridge said. “Our depth chart is not set, we will not release one until before the week against Tulsa. There is just flat out too much competition across the board.”

For the Owls, who went 3-9 in Partridge’s debut season, talk of excess talent may be seen as a welcome change from last year, where the team lost much of its impact personnel.

Differences from the previous year’s team include the loss of Lucky Whitehead, Alex Deleon and William Dukes, some of redshirt senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson’s favorite pass targets.

Instead, fans will see senior Jenson Stoshak and redshirt sophomore Kalib Woods lining up at wide receiver.

“In high school, I was used to that role because I went to a small school,” Stoshak said of the added responsibility. “So it’s kind of like I’m reliving that, I’m one of the main guys now. I don’t mind it, I don’t feel any pressure.”

One position battle that is far from over is the one between the running backs, as both junior Jay Warren and sophomore Greg Howell could see extra playing time depending on who’s performing.

“Every running back does the same thing,” said Howell. “Basically, when your number is called, it’s time to step up. We feel that defenses are gonna have to keep up with us. We just want to do what we have to do to help the team win.”

Quarterback Jaquez Johnson will be at the helm of the team for his final season, while the backup quarterback position still remains open for all three possible suitors (freshman Daniel Parr, redshirt freshman Jason Driskel and graduate student Tyler Cameron).

“We’re a lot more comfortable coming into the season than the last season,” Johnson said. “We had a brand new coach, we had a good spring, but didn’t know what to expect in the fall. We’re trying to build on last year, but we need to learn how to close games.”

On defense, the departure of both linebacker Andrae Kirk and cornerback D’Joun Smith leave gaps that need to be filled. Junior defensive back Lester Thomas looks to have the corner spot locked up, despite his limited experience at the position.

“Guys you may not have considered as key players last year will be key this year, lot of people stepping up,” said senior defensive lineman Brandin Bryant. “Like Lester Thomas, Andrew Soroh, Shalom Ogbonda, Ray Ellis, Nick Internicola, guys are just all over the field for us.”

Kirk’s opening could be contested by junior Robert Relf or redshirt sophomore Nate Ozdemir, depending how the rest of camp goes.

Injury has not affected the team too much during camp, a reality some teams are not as easily able to dodge.

“We’re in a very good place, we are relatively very healthy,” Partridge said of his team’s mostly injury-free camp.

Only redshirt junior defensive back Anthony Hamilton and freshman linebacker Jaye Miner are out for the whole season, while senior tight end Michael Harrop and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Devin Santana will be out until late in the season.

The team is holding themselves to a higher standard this upcoming year. The team came in second for C-USA football grade point averages last season – and are holding each other accountable both on the field and in the classroom.

“We’re shooting for the Conference USA championship,” said Woods. “We expect nothing less than a bowl game at the end of the year. Those are the goals we have set for ourselves, and that coach Partridge talks about most.”

The Owls open their season Sept. 5 in Oklahoma, facing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Ryan Lynch is the Sports editor for the University Press. For tips regarding this or other articles, He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter (@RyanLynchwriter).