Dolphins get first day in pads

The sounds of pads hitting, helmets rocking and the thud of players going to the ground were heard around the JU practice field on Tuesday as the Dolphins had their first practice in full pads.

With their first full day in pads out of the way, the Dolphins will go through their first two-a-day practice on Wednesday in preparation for the first full scrimmage on Saturday at Fletcher High School.

“The guys were fired up today to get into full pads and we had a good practice,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “We saw a lot of positives, but we also have a lot of things to work on. The one thing I have stressed is that championship teams get better every day. We need to keep this high intensity going throughout camp.”

POSITION PREVIEW SPOTLIGHT – QUARTERBACKS: Last year entering training camp, the Dolphins were in search of a starting quarterback. That search went through training camp and ended at halftime of the season opener when Josh McGregor guided JU to a win at Savannah State.

From there, the freshman went on to earn PFL Offensive “Freshman of the Year” honors as he set the school record for most passing yards and touchdowns.

While McGregor took control of the starting role, he got help from junior Erik Stepelton, who moved into the backup role and shined when called upon late in the season – leading the fourth quarter rally against San Diego, as well as the second half against Drake.

“The difference to this time last year is like night and day,” Bell said. “We’re very fortunate to have two guys with starting experience at quarterback. Josh stepped into the starter’s role last season and we expect him to continue to improve this season. There are a lot of guys who couldn’t handle losing the starting job, but Erik showed his maturity and was prepared for every game and ready whenever we call upon him. He won some big games for us late in the season that ultimately led us to winning the PFL title.”

The battle for the No. 3 spot at quarterback is wide open going into training camp. Sophomores Jonathan Jones, Jeremy Thornton and Butch Moore will all be in competition for the travel squad.

“We’ve got four guys who we feel can go for us,” Bell said. “Jonathan is healthy this fall and will push Josh and Erik. Butch Moore is another guy that we think can play for us and all of them are just waiting for an opportunity to challenge.”

Click here to see Coach Bell’s interview on the quarterbacks.

SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE SET: The Dolphins will have three scrimmages during preseason camp, the first coming on Aug. 15 at Fletcher High School, the second at The Bolles School on Aug. 22, before the final scrimmage at D.B. Milne Field on Aug. 29.

This Saturday’s scrimmage will be a homecoming of sorts for Elliott Finkley, Ray Scott, Lacy McDougald and Logan Chipperfield – four Dolphins who all played at Fletcher High School.

“We had a tremendous experience getting out in the community for our scrimmages last year and this is a great opportunity to gain exposure for our program,” Bell said.