Football: Owls close spring practice, set for Spring Game on Saturday

On Saturday, FAU Football will play their 2023 Spring Game, completing head coach Tom Herman’s first spring camp at FAU.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

On Friday, FAU Football will complete the final practice of their first spring camp under head coach Tom Herman, and the last before their 2023 Spring Game on Saturday afternoon. 

Saturday’s Spring Game will be our first live look at several of the roster’s returning starters, along with some new faces looking to help the Owls recover from consecutive finishes below .500 the past two seasons. 

The group of returners is headlined by junior wide receiver Lajohntay Wester, who’s coming off a career-year in 2022 where he caught 62 passes for 719 yards and eight touchdowns—and at one point was tied for first in the nation in touchdown catches. 

Earlier in the spring, wide receivers coach David Beaty, who was hired in January after eight seasons of Power 5 coaching experience, spoke to the benefit of returning past contributors.

I always say there is one thing that we can’t give them and that is experience,” said Beaty. “You only get that by earning the right to get on the field. We have several guys that have played significant minutes and played in real Division I football games. That is definitely a bonus because you have to go get that, we can’t give it to them.”

Returning alongside Wester in the wide receiver room will be redshirt sophomore Tony Johnson, who played in all 12 games last season, accounting for 258 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 23 receptions. 

Even with so much in-game experience coming back at wide receiver, perhaps the most valuable returner on the offensive side of the ball will be junior running back Larry McCammon III.

After quietly contributing as backup for three seasons, this past the 5-foot-11, 204-pound Birmingham, Ala., native emerged as the Owls’ “bell-cow” running back, rushing for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns. Following his breakout that earned him First Team All-C-USA Honors, McCammon entered the transfer portal, before opting to return to FAU, where he should again be starter come fall. 

Retaining a corps of proven assets, will make the transition to a new starting quarterback, which has been another headline throughout the spring, for whoever wins the job.

Former quarterback N’Kosi Perry called signals for FAU for the past two seasons. With his eligibility expired after last season, that left a void under center for which there are multiple contenders. 

Leading that group is redshirt sophomore Tyriq Starks and redshirt junior Michael Johnson Jr.. Both sat behind Perry last season, as Johnson Jr. has been a career backup at FAU for three seasons after transferring from Penn State University, while Starks transferred from Independence Community College last summer.

“It has been exciting. The energy has been unmatched,” said Johnson Jr. “Everyone is super excited and pumped to be here, wants to get in and grind and get better. We are all pushing each other and holding each other accountable.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Owls’ will also be fielding a solid corps of returners on both the front seven and the secondary. 

After missing time to injury last season, senior defensive lineman Evan Anderson is looking to return to previous form, where he tallied a team-high eight tackles for loss in 2021, and make up for the loss of defensive lineman Jaylen Joyner, who transferred to Memphis in January.

Meanwhile, the secondary will be hanging onto multiple valuable pieces in redshirt senior safety Teja Young and senior cornerback Romain Mungin. 

Young, recipient of three consecutive All-C-USA honorable mentions, is coming off of a career-year that included 40 total tackles and two pick-sixes, while Mungin nabbed two interceptions and 34 total tackles. 

The Owls’ roster will be split into two teams for Saturday’s Spring Game, and for the first half will play a true-game format for the first half before transition to team-specific drills. The Spring Game is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron