Chants hit the practice field running under new regime

The Coastal Carolina football team had the first of 29 preseason practices Thursday, going for two hours in helmets Thursday evening.

“I was very excited to get out on the practice field,” said first year head coach Joe Moglia. “We no longer are talking about the future and what we hope can happen. We are 30 days from kickoff. Our players had a very good summer thanks to Coach Josh Stoner and his staff. I have also heard great things about our players taking a leadership role in doing extra work to get better.

“Today was a good learning day, especially for our group of 27 newcomers,” Moglia added. “We need to keep better focus throughout the practice and keep a high level of energy with great tempo. We cannot let our minds wonder for one second if we want to accomplish our goals.

Coastal Carolina returns 48 lettermen, including 20 starters, while losing 26 lettermen, seven of whom were starters.

Including quarterback Aramis Hillary, Coastal returns four of its top five rushers and two of its top three quarterbacks. The Chants also bring back three starting offensive linemen (two time All-Big South pick Jamey Cheatwood, Chad Hamilton and Pat Williams), as well as five of its top receivers, not including All-American David Duran who missed almost all of 2011 due to injury.
On defense, Coastal must replace three of its all-time bests in linebacker Desmond Steward, safety Marcus Lott and corner back Josh Norman. Up front, Coastal has the experience of three productive defensive ends as well as Jeffery Salley and Johnny Hartsfield in the defensive interior. At linebacker, two-time All-Big South pick Andrae Jacobs leads a young but talented group of linebackers that includes Quinn Backus and Mike McClure. In the secondary, Coastal returns starting safeties Johnnie Houston and Philip George, while Dontavais Johnson and Tre Henderson shared the starting role at one corner spot.

“In particular, I thought our defensive backs had a great day today,” Moglia said. “I look forward to see if they will build on that and, more importantly, if the others will rise to their level.”

Coastal also announced a few roster changes, most notably the end of junior offensive lineman Kaleb Dees’ career. The Laurens, S.C., native played in 19 games with eight starts at offensive guard over the past two seasons. Dees will serve as a student assistant this fall and he is on pace to graduate this coming December.

In addition to Joe Kaleta joining the squad prior to today’s first practice, Coastal welcomes junior kicker/punter Stephen Denuel. Denuel spent the past two seasons as the starting punter/kicker at Christopher Newport University, earning first team honors last season. Denuel made 16-of-18 field goals last season and scored 80 points.

Also, back from the spring and not previously on the roster released in early July are linebacker Michael Battle, tight end Kyle Vargo and kicker/punter Trevor Witcher.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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