Ex-Valley Christian coach takes over at Campbell


Ex-Valley Christian coach takes over at Campbell

By Dan Hiner

dhiner@vindy.com

Campbell

The Campbell football program is in a state of transition with Albert “Butch” Jennings replacing respected head coach Ed Rozum.

Rozum coached the program for 18 seasons during his four stints.

Jennings is returning after a one-year hiatus. He coached Valley Christian in 2016, leading the team to a 2-7 record.

With the Red Devils installing new schemes on offense and defense, very few players have a set position.

A majority of the players have practiced at several positions. Jennings said the goal is to be more athletic and take advantage in space.

OFFENSE

The Red Devils need to find a replacement for Darion Jones at quarterback. Jones threw for 802 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Sophomore Christian Stores and freshman Kayvon Moore are two duel-threat quarterbacks who are in position to take the starting job.

Raysean Hicks is an example of Jennings’ transition to a more athletic roster.

The senior lost 20 pounds and moved from offensive tackle to tight end. Hicks caught his coach’s attention while on the basketball court. Jennings said he wants to see Hicks’ versatility on the gridiron.

“It’s actually kind of relaxing knowing I can help the team at a different position and showcase my talents and my athleticism,” Hicks said.

The offensive line is still to be determined with Hicks’ move and Seth Jackson and Josh Rusnak graduating last year. Jennings said the O-line will be young and a key to the offense’s development during the year.

Sophomore James Shaffer will be the running back this season. He’s replacing Antwaan McMeans, who led the Red Devils in rushing with 374 yards and seven touchdowns.

Senior Nikita Klimis and junior Malachi Bannarn are returning at receiver. But multiple players have been working out at receiver and the names could change throughout the season.

“We’re moving everybody at two or three different positions just to see if they can play [at multiple spots],” Klimis said. “We could move people just in case somebody gets hurt and it opens it up a lot.”

DEFENSE

The defense has been ahead of the offense early in camp. That’s no surprise given the Red Devils are returning eight of their top 12 tacklers from 2017.

“Defense is picking up quicker, we can tell in scrimmages,” Jennings said. “We’re responding a little bit better to the nuances of what we’re trying to do here.”

Despite changing positions on offense, Hicks will remain on the defensive line along with Luis Bonilla.

Shaffer is returning at safety while Bannarn and Klimis are coming back at corner.

The defense will try to use their speed to create more pressure. Campbell will blitz more and Shaffer believes the aggressive philosophy is a better fit for the players.

“I feel like that’s better for us because we’re not the biggest team,” Shaffer said.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The kicking and punting positions are still up for grabs. Junior Joey Michaels, a soccer player who used to play football, is joining the program.

Jennings said Michaels could fill the team’s need for a kicker or punter.

Moore has electrifying practice during special teams drills as a kick returner.

“He’s dynamic,” Jennings said. “When you see the things he [does], you didn’t really coach it. You just put him in the right position.”

Klimis is also expected to get time as a kickoff and punt returner.

“I want the special teams to be the heart because it can put us in good field position or put us in a bad field position,” Jennings said.

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