FLORENCE -- Bobby Wallace and his University of North Alabama football squad will open 2015 Spring Drills on Monday, February 16 with one of the largest group of returning players in school history.
The Lions return 59 lettermen, including 15 starters, from a squad that went 9-2 last season, won a share of the Gulf South Conference Championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the ninth time in the last 10 years. The 59 returning lettermen for UNA have earned a combined 91 letters with the Lions and 10 returning players are three-year lettermen.
UNA returns 33 lettermen and eight starters on offense, led by three returning All-GSC selections in senior quarterback Luke Wingo, senior running back Lamonte Thompson and senior receiver Lee Mayhall. On the defensive side, UNA returns 24 lettermen and six starters, led by junior All-GSC defensive backs Levi Fell and Philbert Martial.
Wallace said having so many experienced players returning will alter the Lions Spring drills.
"We will definitely approach it a lot differently that we have in the past," Wallace said. "We have a large group of seniors who have played a lot of football over the years and we will not let them do any contact work. At the same time that allows us to look at our younger players and get them a lot of work in game-like situations."
Wallace said the Lion are still thin on the offensive line and said that will limit some of what UNA can do this Spring. "We have to try and develop some depth there," Wallace said. "We should have some great competition in the secondary and at receiver and that means we will put a lot of emphasis on passing drills."
Wallace said the Lions also have to work on fundamentals and base coverages to get better.
Having won Gulf South Conference Championships in back-to-back seasons, Wallace says the Lions are ready to get back on the field and are looking forward to the early Spring drills.
"There are a lot of reasons I like going early with Spring practice," Wallace said. "Sometimes the weather is better in February and March than it is in April, with the rain. And this will be the third Spring with our current coaching staff and we are prepared and ready to go. Plus, if you have any injuries, there is more time for them to heal."
Wallace said the players also seem to enjoy the cooler, football-like weather, and they will have practice completed before Spring Break.
The Lions' 15 practice sessions will include three the first week and four in each of the following three weeks. The Lions' annual Purple-White Game is scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at 11 a.m.
2015 UNA SPRING SCHEDULE
Feb. 16 Mon 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 17 Thu 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 18 Fri 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 23 Mon 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 25 Wed 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 27 Fri 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 28 Sat 10:00 a.m.
March 2 Mon 3:15 p.m.
March 4 Wed 3:15 p.m.
March 6 Fri 3:15 p.m.
March 7 Sat 10:00 a.m.
March 9 Mon 3:15 p.m.
March 11 Wed 3:15 p.m.
March 13 Fri 3:15 p.m.
March 14 Sat 10:00 a.m. Spring Game at Braly Stadium
Courtesy: UNA Media Relations