Quarterback, running back positions up for grabs for Mavericks

The Mesa State College football team begins spring practice Saturday with several positions up for grabs.

“This spring is really big,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “(Darin) Robidoux, (Bill) Stafford and Miles (Kochevar) did a good job finding talent. We have a lot of good redshirts.

“That’s the beauty of spring ball. The younger guys, or even the older guys, get a chance to put their best foot forward.”

Ramunno will have to replace nine starters, including running back Bobby Coy and offensive tackle Mike Field, who have eligibility remaining, but have decided not to return. Another offensive lineman, Jeremiah Johnson, is having knee problems and isn’t returning for his
senior season.

Possibly the most important position battle is at quarterback.

Redshirt freshmen Robert Felberg and Mike Mankoff have a shot at replacing two-year starter Phil Vigil.

“Quarterback is always a tough one,” Ramunno said. “ Coach (Jon) Boyer has a good group with Felberg and Mankoff.”

Felberg and Mankoff each took a road trip with the Mavericks this past fall to get a feel for what lies ahead.

“We tried to involve them as much as we could,” Ramunno said. “Both of them are great leaders and came from good high school programs.”

The two will see more competition in the fall with the arrival of 2009 recruit Jason Haferman (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) of Fort Collins. Haferman led Poudre High School to the state semifinals and set several school passing records.

The competition to replace Coy, a Harlon Hill Trophy candidate this past season, will consist of two returning running backs and two without a single college carry.

Kyle Britton, who will be a senior, had the bulk of the carries 2½ years ago when Coy was out with a knee injury. Joey Applehans had 21 carries for 147 yards last season. Redshirts Will Halboth and J.R. Hamm are expected to get some carries.

“Kyle Britton had the best offseason of his career,” Ramunno said. “Joey Applehans played well. Will Halboth has great potential and traveled with us, and J.R. Hamm. We have an ample group there. Nobody’s like Bobby, but they have great traits of their own.”

Three returning tight ends will compete for the starting job vacated by pro prospect Maurice Manley. Seth Damron and Chris Rossman return along with Tyler Loomis, who redshirted last fall.

Ramunno lost two seniors and two underclassmen on the offensive line, but will have former Grand Junction High School standout Justin Reed, who returned from an church mission a couple of months ago, and former Eagle Valley lineman Jason Bair (6-8, 290) this spring.

Bair has been attending classes at Mesa State and asked to try out. Ramunno has moved redshirt freshman Trevor Stapp from defensive line to the offensive line.

The defense loses five seniors, including two defensive backs and two linebackers, but has several new players competing for those spots.

Defensive back Tanner Whaley (Palisade) returns this spring after a semester at Colorado State. He played for the Mavericks in 2007.

The Mavericks will have a new kicker this fall with All-American Jared Keating gone.

Caleb Pavy (Mullen) redshirted last fall after setting the Colorado high school scoring record for kickers. Grand Junction High School graduate Michael Sweeney, a sophomore, transferred from Montana State.

“Jared is working with them both,” Ramunno said. “He feels comfortable with those guys taking his place.”

Scrimmages are scheduled for 10 a.m. on April 18 and 10 a.m. on April 25 at Bergman Field.


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