Furman Football To Open Spring Practice Monday

Dakota Dozier

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Furman Paladins are set  to kick off spring practice Monday afternoon under head coach Bruce Fowler.

Approximately 66 players are expected to take part in Monday's 4:45 p.m. session, the first of 15 scheduled practices over a 30-day period as allowed by the NCAA.

"We're looking forward to getting started," said Fowler, who is set to begin his third season at the helm of the Paladin program.  "The players have put in a lot of hard work since the end of last season and are anxious, along with the coaching staff, to get out on the field and begin improving our football program."

The Paladins return 15 starters but only 34 lettermen off last year's squad.

Among the eight returning starters are all five regulars on the offensive line led by All-America tackle Dakota Dozier, wide receiver Ryan Culbreath (34 rec., 415 yds., 2 TDs), and quarterback Reese Hannon (1,896 yds., 7 TDs).

Defensively, the Paladins were touched by graduation and return only five starters, including end Shawn Boone (26 tackles, 3.5 sacks), linebacker Gary Wilkins (team leading 92 tackles in '12),  cornerbacks Austin Williams (24 tackles) and Reggie Thomas (23 tackles, 2 INT), and safety Greg Worthy (77 tackles).

Ray Early returns as Furman's placekicker (10-of-16 FGs) and punter (42.1 avg.)

Positions hardest by graduation include tight end, running back, defensive line, and linebacker.

The most notable departures include 2011 All-America tight end Colin Anderson (90 career rec., 1,541 yds., 11 TDs), 2012 All-America return specialist/running back Jerodis Williams (3,097 career yds., 29 TDs), who led FCS in kickoff returns (35.9 avg., 2 TDs) last fall, All-SoCon defensive end Josh Lynn (163 career tackles, 10 sacks), and free safety Nathan Wade (292 career tackles, five INTs).

Furman's annual Purple-White scrimmage is set for April 6.

The Paladins kick off the 2013 season on Aug. 31 at Gardner-Webb.