There are 10 newcomers on the Northwestern State offensive depth chart unveiled Friday, including new starting quarterback Zach Adkins, a highly-touted California junior college transfer who will debut next Thursday when the Demons open the 2013 football season at Missouri State.
Adkins is one of four junior college transfers on the chart, along with four true freshmen and two transfers from four-year schools. Add in two more 2012 transfers who were redshirted, along with six more redshirt freshmen, and a sophomore who didn't play last year, and half of the 38 players listed on the offensive depth chart haven't played a down as Demons.
Offensive coordinator Robby Brown and new head coach Jay Thomas listed 12 positions, including four receivers slots, and just one behind center, the feature back post, where five players are pushing for playing time. There are 19 NSU lettermen on the depth chart.
The quarterback post is the only one where a newcomer is starting, although there's another starter who is new to the offensive side. That's converted cornerback Ed Eagan, who is the starting Z receiver, having moved across the ball midway through spring practice.
It is quarterback that is always the focal point of any depth chart, especially when there's not a returning starter there. The Demons lost two-year starter Brad Henderson to graduation and backup Don Canyon is out until at least midseason with shoulder surgery.
Thomas and his staff signed three quarterbacks in February to challenge the only returning player, Daniel Hazlewood, a redshirt freshman.
"They all competed really well, and we want those guys to continue to compete. But it's time to set the rotation. It's game week and Saturday we go out on the field putting in the game plan for Missouri State," said Thomas.
"Zach has game experience in a very good junior college conference out there in California, and that gives him an advantage. Daniel has a lot of talent and is a great leader, a super competitor, and he's just a redshirt freshman," said Thomas. "With him, T.J. Fleeton and J.D. Almond all being freshmen, we're in very good shape for the long haul at quarterback."
Adkins completed 67 percent of his passes last fall at Riverside City College, throwing for 2,744 yards and 28 touchdowns for a 9-2 team that ranked fourth in the Southern California Community College Top 20. His 66.8 percent completion percentage was third among all California community college quarterbacks and his six interceptions (in 289 attempts) were the fewest in the state by any junior college quarterback with at least 250 attempts.
Redshirt freshman Terrance Boyd (6-3, 314) from Baytown, Texas-Robert E. Lee High School is the only one in his class to win a starting job, at left guard. Three sophomores, all who played as true freshmen in 2012, are starters: receiver Cody Jones of Ville Platte, right tackle Pace Murphy from Houston-Strake Jesuit, and Eagan, a New Orleans-Holy Cross product.
Adkins and receiver Casey Toussant are the only juniors earning No. 1 at their positions. Six seniors are starters: receiver Louis Hollier, tight end Tucker Nims, left tackle Blayne Cole, center Warren Jones, right guard Tchissakid Player and feature back Robert Walker.
The Demons, who will announce their defensive and special teams depth charts Saturday, got Friday off while coaches prepared the game plan for Missouri State. NSU will practice at 3:30 Saturday afternoon.