McCollum’s Column: Bears coming on the radar

The usual suspects have done the usual veteran things during the initial days of preseason practice by the UCA Bears.

 

The team has been intact since summer and the veteran players are comfortable with the system and coaches and it shows.

But there are some new faces and new wrinkles.

Such as Jarvis Cooper, a big back transfer from the University of Memphis who played at 255 to 260 pounds in an unremarkable season last year. He’s lost 25 pounds.

“He really doesn’t look like the same guy,” said coach Steve Campbell. “He has transformed his body. He’s much quicker, much faster. When he gets the ball, he’s more comfortable. He’s more confident about sticking that foot in the ground than taking off. You can tell he’s having fun out there.”

UCA has also added depth in the backfield.

Cedric Battle is a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham.

“He’s a good speed guy to go with our bigger backs (Carlos Blackman and KeShawn Ledet),” Campbell said. “He’s another speed back to go with Kierre Crossley. We haven’t had that type of home run hitter at back who can just take off and is hard to catch.

Vincent Butler is another back with an extra gear.

Another player to move up on the radar is defensive lineman Javian Williams, 6-1, 250, who has lost 20 pounds.

In preseason conditioning tests to gain a benchmark, players run 16 110-yard sprints.

“I’ve never had a 350-plus player who could complete all 16 of those sprints in time,” Campbell said.

Those younger players will be on display Saturday morning during the Bears’ first scrimmage of the preseason.

There are plenty of veterans but a nice foundation is starting to be laid by several up-and-comers.

Lots to be encouraged about in the early stages.

 

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