Insider Notes: Tidbits from the DCTF stop at Texas State - Is the hype legit?

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Every year it’s felt like Texas State’s had a different vibe during spring. Whether it's been a new coach, new offense, new defense, new roster, high hopes, modest expectations, or some combination of all of the above, it's never felt the same inside Bobcat Stadium.

And this year is the same with a new added feeling to that list – emotions and the vibe of a team that's expected to win.

Construction is still going on the William Trevillion IV Weight Room Complex so there are some detours and walled off portions to navigate around the facility but on the field, everything’s as ready-made as one could probably remember. There's a loose energy but quiet confidence around the building. More players are working out and getting reps in after the team's dismissed. It just feels new.

After spending roughly an hour with a few players, head coach GJ Kinne, offensive coordinator Mack Leftwich and defensive coordinator Dexter McCoil Sr., here are some valuable tidbits that may not make the summer magazine in-full but are worth noting.



- Jordan McCloud has added a presence that makes Texas State appear as crisp of a team could after replacing its quarterback. The impactful addition of the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year can’t be understated. This time last season, Texas State had Malik Hornsby take starting reps and now it has its presumed starter from Day 1 of spring. Everyone seems to feel like McCloud possesses a lot of the hand-in-glove attributes needed to make this offense hit its highest gears. By all accounts McCloud appears more ready to handle defensive adjustments and pressure than Texas State was last season. There is an internal feeling that Texas State’s ceiling is exponentially higher with him.

- Talking around, it’s clear that the Baylor win had a longer-lasting impact than initially believed. Obviously, it was the first win of the season and against a power in-state program, but it showed that high-level talent was already on campus and it validated the coaching staff’s scouting and developmental skills. It also internally erased the idea that Texas State was only a bridesmaid program watching other non-power programs exceed expectations over the last decade.

- Receiver Drew Donley was nursing an injury throughout spring ball but didn’t seem to be much worry about his status.

- Both UTEP running backs, Torrance Burgess and Deion Hankins are also recovering from injury, but it could also be penned as precautious as both have had issues with injury throughout their careers. But that paved the way for running back Jaylen Jenkins from Washington State to make a big splash in spring.

- Barrick Nealy’s hire as running backs coach would've been justified for his presence alone. Kinne felt his status as a legend made the reunion obvious but his track record as a developer and relationship-builder is something that was missing in that spot last season.

- Don’t worry too much about wide receiver depth. Even after losing Ashtyn Hawkins, Joey Hobert is in mid-season form. And every person I spoke to mentioned Chris Dawn Jr. as a player to watch in stepping alongside Hobert and Kole Wilson. Utah Tech transfer Beau Sparks and even freshman enrollee Kylen Evans, already the tallest body in the room, had very impressive springs as well.

- Kinne is very high on early enrollee quarterback Brad Jackson. Don’t expect Texas State to go in the portal for a veteran backup option. They’re satisfied with PJ Hatter and Jackson behind McCloud.



- Don’t let the “co-coordinator” title fool anyone, this is Dexter McCoil Jr.’s defense and will be similary in philosophy to Jonathan Patke. There's no handholding here. The 32-year-old has full confidence from Kinne to run the defense.

- Bradley Dale Peveto has added a valuable veteran presence and sounding board, but McCoil is the playcaller. In fact, all three of Kinne, McCoil and offensive coordinator Mack Leftiwch have veteran counterparts on-staff in Dale Peveto, David Bailiff and Chad Morris.

- Defensive line and secondary aren't necessarily "set" but there's less mystery in those rooms.

- Ben Bell nursed an injury all spring, but similar to Donley, there's no indication that he'll miss any significant time as the season approaches.

- It looks to be a very open at linebaker with as many as six players vying for the spots left by Dan Foster Jr. and Brian Holloway. The safest bets right now could be James Neal from UTEP and perhaps Max Harris from ULM. But everyone indicates that there’s no real clear winner so far. A darkhorse name to watch will be veteran Kenny Haynes, who was recruited by and signed under former head coach Jake Spavital and has made waves. Derick Mourning Jr., Jordan Smith, and newly converted linebacker Michael Boudoin III are other options to keep tabs on.

- Everyone I’ve spoken to thus far; player, coach, supporter and/or alum, has unpromptedly mentioned athletic director Don Coryell and President Kelly Damphousse as being valuable assets to the coaching staff's overall culture-build of the program. Meeting recruits and parents on visits, making their presence and support known and in fundraising are a few of the ways people have seen the pair lend their hand.

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