In With The New: Six Key Owls for 2015

Every year, players and coaches leave the program in a variety of ways, while freshmen and upperclassmen are left to take over. Our guide gives you a look at some of the new faces on the team this upcoming year.

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In With The New: Six Key Owls for 2015

Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was one of the owl's key losses coming into the 2015 season. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was one of the owl's key losses coming into the 2015 season. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was one of the owl's key losses coming into the 2015 season. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was one of the owl's key losses coming into the 2015 season. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

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Brandon Harrington | Photographer

Photo by Brandon Harrington

IN: Daniel Parr, QB, Freshman

Daniel Parr burst on to the scene during spring camp, finishing his first semester with a strong performance in the spring game, where he threw two touchdowns. He showed potential playcalling poise and leadership capabilities leading the offense, despite being an early enrollee to the school.

With a three way battle for the backup position between Parr, Tyler Cameron and redshirt freshman Jason Driskel, look for Parr to develop as part of the future of FAU football. What you saw in the spring was not a hoax, just a sign of things to come.

Max Jackson | Photographer

Photo by Max Jackson

OUT: Greg Hankerson, QB, Senior, transfer

Greg Hankerson, who threw 163 yards and a touchdown in eight games as the Owls’ backup last year, is taking his last year of eligibility to Norfolk State after he fell in the depth chart during the spring season.

Senior QB Jaquez Johnson has the starting position nailed down, but the team still needs a solid backup in case of an emergency or a blowout. Without Hankerson, in-game experience is limited between the remaining quarterbacks (Only graduate student Tyler Cameron has thrown a pass in a regular season college game.) .

Max Jackson | Photographer

Photo by Max Jackson

IN: Kalib Woods, Wide Receiver, Redshirt Sophomore

After sitting out his first season, Kalib Woods made contributions sporadically in his freshman year. Finishing with 223 yards and four touchdowns in seven games played, he showed a small sample of what he is capable of.

In the new setup senior Jenson Stoshak taking Whitehead’s spot in the slot, Woods will see more targets on the perimeter of the field.

Woods is not as fast as Whitehead, who has been clocked as quickly as 4.29 sec in the 40-yard dash, though he still has the speed to blow by defenders and disrupt tacklers in the open field.

Photo by Michelle Friswell

Photo by Michelle Friswell

OUT: Lucky Whitehead, Wide Receiver, Graduated

Lucky Whitehead’s production on the field was unmatched by all other receivers on the roster last season, leading the team with 706 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. He was also 18th in all-purpose yards, with an average of 143.3 total yards per game.

His speed made him a dangerous special teams player: He had 804 kick and punt return yards and a touchdown, good for 16th out of all players in the nation for combined kick returns. The Owls are left with a hole to fill, while Whitehead is trying to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.

Photo provided by FAU Media Relations

Photo provided by FAU Media Relations

IN: Kelly Parfitt, Redshirt junior, Offensive line

Kelly Parfitt transferred to FAU in 2014, after receiving little playing time at the University of Central Florida.

Parfitt, coming in at six-foot-six and 313 pounds, is the second-heaviest lineman (senior Mikingson Marsalle is the heaviest at 320 pounds) and second tallest on the team (redshirt sophomore Anthony Russell is the tallest at six-foot-seven).

The extra size and experience that he brings is an asset to a line that already has four returning starters from last season. Expect Parfitt and company to give defenses a hard time in the trenches, and serve as a replacement to Lyons.

Photo by Kimberly Thompson

Photo by Kimberly Thompson

OUT: Braden Lyons, Offensive Line, graduated

He also started every game last year after transferring from the City College of San Francisco after his sophomore season. With an invite to the Miami Dolphins minicamp, Lyons is trying to find his way onto a roster at the pro level.

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

IN: Lester Thomas, Defensive back, Junior

Over the past two years in Boca Raton, Lester Thomas saw most of his action on the special teams side of the ball. Moving to safety from corner in the spring, Thomas showed improvement in coverage, and brought a tenacity for finding the ball in the air. While he might not have the skill of Smith as a defensive back, Thomas’ speed and hard work will help him hold his own.

Photo by Michelle Friswell

Photo by Michelle Friswell

OUT: D’joun Smith, Defensive back, Graduated

D’joun Smith’s contributions went largely unnoticed this year, but not because his skills fell off. During games, opposing quarterbacks were unwilling to test the defensive back out of Miami, Florida. With seven interceptions in 2013 and only one in 2014, the simple fact that he was on the field kept teams uneasy.

Smith’s ability to read pass routes is hard to teach, and even harder to find. Taken in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, the cornerback position is now open for a pass defense that has struggled in the past few years.  (giving up seven more pass touchdowns and 238.7 pass yards per game last year, compared to only 11 and 166.6 pass yards per game in 2013).

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

IN: Corey Bell – Assistant coach, secondary

Corey Bell worked as the head coach at both American Senior High School (Hialeah, Florida) and Miami Edison Senior High School, ending up with a 67-65-1 over 13 years. He was a defensive back at the University of South Carolina.

While his only previous college experience before FAU was working for the University of Miami from 2007-10 as a director of football operations, head coach Charlie Partridge is giving him a chance to use his knowledge on the field in both of their second years as Owls.

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

OUT: Nick Caley – Assistant coach, secondary

Nick Caley took a position with the New England Patriots of the NFL after his first year at FAU, his first job in the pro ranks. He joined coach Partridge’s staff in 2014 as an assistant, working to recapture some of the spark from the previous year.

There were less interceptions, but player tackle numbers improved under Caley’s system. With stints in Auburn, Eastern Illinois and Iowa State, it’s no wonder the coach was being sought after for his experience with the secondary unit.