Blount Press Row

BPR Spring Practice Report: The Rebel Offense

Prevo captains dynamic Maryville backfield; Garrett, Vaught duel for start at QB

Rising senior John Garrett makes his move during Maryville spring practice earlier this month. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

John Garrett has that “it” factor.

Rising junior Tyler Vaught, far left, makes the give.

He’ll make the right read, the right throw, the right handoff, every time.

Tyler Vaught looks like a quarterback.

Tall, lean, he’s the difference between a kid who can throw a football – and one who can spin it. Big-time arm.

After two weeks of spring practice earlier this month, not a lot was settled as to who’ll be the starter for the opener when Maryville hosts Webb Aug. 23 at Shields Stadium.

Garrett, a rising senior, took most of the first snaps with the first unit, but Vaught, a rising junior, saw equal time. It’ll be the fall before he makes a decision, Rebel coach George Quarles said.

“If we’re playing a game today, both would play,” he said. “I don’t know who would go in first. They both bring something different to the table. We can win a game with either one at quarterback.

“We’ve played two quarterbacks before. It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but it’s not the worst thing, either. That’s a position we feel good about. The competition will make both of them better.”

Garrett makes the delivery.

Garrett was a frontrunner for the start this time a year ago. A bout with mononucleosis at the start of the school year wiped out most of the season, the dual-sport standout returning just prior to the playoffs, where he spent much of his time in the defensive secondary.

Garrett played point guard on the Rebels’ state-tournament basketball team this past season.

“I thought I threw it pretty good this spring,” he said. “My arm got a little stronger and I thought I threw it down the field better.”

The 6-foot-1 Vaught has all the makings of a major college prospect, his speed in the open field as a runner as head turning as the velocity on his throws. He said he’s unconcerned as to who gets the start come fall.

“I’d like to play quarterback or any position they need me,” Vaught said.

It’s no stretch, Vaught, who’ll make the rounds of the summer camp circuit, could be 6-4 or better come August.

“I’ve got to gain some weight,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll fill out when I stop growing.

“We’ve got some things to work on offensively. We’ve just got to start reading the defenses better, seeing things before they happen.”

There’s no rush to pick a starter because the rest of the backfield returns stacked.

Shawn Prevo gets to the corner during a scrimmage.

Shawn Prevo is beginning to draw the interest of major college programs entering his senior season. Representatives from Ole Miss and Middle Tennessee State University, among others, visited Maryville spring practice.

“Shawn is getting plenty of looks,” Quarles said.

Backfield mate Trenton Shuler is gone from last season’s state-runner up finish. In his place, rising junior Jaylen Burgess enjoyed an impressive spring. A genuine power back with speed, he’s the type of runner Rebel opponents haven’t seen since the Ryan Tallant days almost a decade ago.

Rising junior Dylan Shinsky spent the spring with the Rebel baseball team and looked fully healed from a broken leg suffered in a semifinal win at Siegel in late November. The kid with a thousand moves is something to see with a football in his hands, provided the Rebels aren’t pressed for his services at linebacker as they were a year ago.

The receiving corps took significant hits from graduation but returns perhaps the gem of the lot in rising senior Cody Carroll. The Rebel coaching staff got the ball to the versatile track decathlete in a lot of ways over the course of the spring, including turning it up between the tackles on the reverse.

“I like it,” Carroll said. “In any big situation, I’d want the ball in my hands.”

Cody Carroll breaks from the line during drills.

It was a young group flanking Carroll. J.D. Mitchell, Blake Henderson, Paul Bristol, Josh Yoakum and Marcus Brooks all emerged contenders for the other spots.

“That’s an area we need some guys to step up,” Quarles said.

At the same time, rising junior tight end Bryce Miller looked as if he’s going to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers when the Rebels put the ball in the air.

“He had a good spring,” Quarles said.

Summer passing leagues will tell a lot.

“One thing we’ve got to focus on is we’ve got to be crisp,” Carroll said. “Our routes have got to be on the money.”

When it comes to the guys who will handle the pigskin, the 2013 Rebels will be a speedy, quick-strike bunch if spring practice is any indicator. Up front, Maryville entered spring with much to replace.

“Quite a few question marks there,” Quarles said.

Prevo said he’s confident the answers will reveal themselves.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “We’ve got to win games. We got enough done.”

The only returnee up front is rising senior Drew Curtis. Classmate Jacob Kelso and juniors John Watts and Ritchie Koons stepped forward this spring to form a core group. Rising junior Dylan Jackson would be a prize addition to the offensive front, but they’d prefer to save him for defense, Quarles said.

“It’s a good thing (offensive line) coach (David) Ellis is on that side,” he said. “He’ll get somebody ready.”

 

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