Head coach Scotty Walden speaks with his team before a 24-22 loss to Tennessee State. | APSU ATHLETICS
The Austin Peay football team wrapped up spring practice last weekend with a spring game in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in front of a number of active military members.
The Governors have become accustomed to practicing and scrimmaging on the road this spring, as turf replacement at Fortera Stadium caused the team to find alternative locations.
The team practiced at various different locations, including Tennessee high school football powerhouse Lipscomb Academy. Austin Peay Head Coach Scotty Walden thinks this could give the program an edge in recruiting and that traveling for spring practice and scrimmages could be something that the program does in the future, as well.
“Even if our field was not under maintenance right now we would still travel for at least our scrimmages because you have to be able to go out to local high schools and show them what we’re building and how we coach,” said Walden. “The high school coaches see how we treat their facilities and how we run our program and it makes Austin Peay a viable option to send their players. I also want to give a shoutout to Coach (Kim) McGowan (APSU women’s soccer coach), she has has been unbelievable in letting us use her soccer field to practice on.”
Spring practice was an opportunity for coaches and fans to get a look at the Governors’ new additions from the transfer portal, as well as some younger players that did not play very much last year, who have started to develop over the offseason.
Walden mentioned several new additions that have stood out to him on both sides of the ball. Mid-year enrollee Mike Evans and Tennessee State transfer Ray Horton were newcomers that stood out to Walden during the spring on the defensive side of the ball, while three new offensive line transfers stood out to Walden on the offensive side of the ball in Conner Parsons from Louisiana-Monroe, Jalen Armstrong from Co-Lin Community College, and Isaiah Wright from Dodge City Community College.
The transfer portal has become a major factor in the modern era of college football, and the Austin Peay football program has been aggressive in the portal, while also making sure to keep a balance between bringing in transfers and bringing in new players to build a program around.
“The transfer is something that we will utilize based on positional needs,” said Walden. “I’ve said since I have taken the job here, though, that my philosophy is that you build a winning program through high school football players from winning programs in our region.”
Not only did the younger players and new additions impress Walden throughout the spring, several returning players that made key contributions last season also continued to impress.
Walden mentioned a number of different players that stood out to him, but the players he raved about the most were returning kicker Maddox Trujilo on special teams, linebacker Darryl Rogan and former Georgia Tech defensive back transfer Devin Smith on defense, and running back CJ Evans and wide receiver DeAndre McCray on offense.
Walden was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the spring and had several positive takeaways going into the summer.
“It has been awesome to slow down and get to build team chemistry because that’s what wins games,” said Walden. “I have been just really amazed and impressed how much this team has come together. They like being around each other, they like going to practice with each other, they like working in the weight room together, and they have genuine excitement for their teammates.”
The Governors will transition to the A-Sun conference for football during the 2022 season and will continue their preparation for a new host of opponents throughout the summer and fall.