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McCorke seeks QB in spring

LIVINGSTON – After being delayed by two days due to weather, the University of West Alabama football team took the field Monday afternoon for its first live scrimmage of the spring. New head Coach Sam McCorkle was extremely pleased with the effort and intensity given on defense in Monday’s scrimmage, but will have his work cut out for him offensively.

“Our first scrimmage was all defense,” said McCorkle. “Our defensive guys were flying to the football and playing with a lot of enthusiasm.”

McCorkle was pleased with the play of defensive lineman Kelvin Vann (5-11, 261, SR) and outside linebacker Zeb Ellison (6-1, 206, SR). Ellison led all UWA tacklers last season with 79 tackles, including 46 solos and eight for a loss, while Vann totaled 45 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss and five sacks.

Offensively, McCorkle said that there is still a lot of work to be done. “We were simply out of sync all afternoon on offense,” commented McCorkle. “We are still working and learning, and things will come around in time after our players get used to being on the field together.”

Laramie Cook (5-8, 154, SR) turned in a solid scrimmage performance according to McCorkle. Cook was second on the team last year with 43 catches for 644 yards and led all receivers with five touchdowns. Marcus Ross (6-1, 230, SR) has also impressed McCorkle with his hard-nosed style of running. Ross is a native of Ittabena, Miss., and came to UWA from the University of Tennessee-Martin.

But the big question mark on the field will be at the quarterback position. The Tigers’ loss of senior quarterback Britt Gilliland means McCorkle will be spending this spring looking for a replacement that can fill some mighty big shoes.

Gilliland started all 11 games for the Tigers at quarterback last season and completed 280-of-451 passes for a school record 3,213 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gilliland also led the GSC in passing yards per game (292.1) and total offense per game (292.1), which was the fifth highest total in Division II, not to mention he was named a finalist for the GSC Commissioner’s Trophy, tabbed Second Team All-GSC as a quarterback and was named Academic All-GSC.

This spring McCorkle will be carefully looking at four individuals to fill the spot in sophomore Josh Crouch, freshmen Jeremy New, freshmen Rickie Sallie and freshmen Jeff East.

Crouch appeared in six games at quarterback for West Alabama in 2003 where he completed 13-of-22 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Crouch arrived in Livingston in 2001 from Washington County High School where he led the Bulldogs to a 25-19 record and County and Area Championships completing 109-of-189 passes for 2,155 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 514 yards as a senior. Crouch finished his prep career with 4,667 yards on 282-of-490 passing with 51 touchdowns and was tabbed All-State, All-Area, All-Region, and FCA Offensive Player of the Year as a senior MVP.

New played for his father Ross New at Carrollton (Ga.) High School and led the Trojans to a 13-11 two-year record. He also played at Irwin County (Ga.) High School from 1998-99 and led the Indians to a Regional Championship. New threw for 3,615 yards and 25 touchdowns over his prep career and was tabbed 2001 Offensive MVP, while earning First Team All-Southwest Georgia honors.

West Alabama will continue practice this week on Tuesday and Thursday (both days will be in shorts) in preparation for the second scrimmage of the season set for Friday at 2:30 p.m. The Red and White Game has been scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 20 at 10 a.m.