After competitive spring game, coach says NSU is ‘just a couple guys away’

NORFOLK — The Norfolk State football team wrapped up its spring practice period on Saturday by spending the better part of two and a half hours scrimmaging against each other at William Dick Price Stadium in front of fans.

“I’m quite sure we did some good things, did some bad things — a typical spring,” head coach Dawson Odums said. “… Very competitive. I really thought our guys flew around. The main thing we wanted to achieve is nobody gets injured out here because you’re at the end and this is the last one, you don’t want to go into the offseason with a whole bunch of injuries. I think for the most part we stayed healthy.”

Quarterback was one of the top positions to watch during the spring game. Otto Kuhns, Norfolk State’s starter for most of the past two seasons, was still not with the team Saturday. A Norfolk State athletics spokesperson told The Pilot at the start of spring practice that Kuhns was temporarily away from the team.

“He’s temporarily from the team, but hopefully he’ll be back this summer and get ready to see how this thing looks and how it plays out during summer camp,” Odums said.

Cameron Sapp was the first quarterback to take snaps Saturday. Sapp, who transferred from Florida A&M last year, played in five games and started two for the Spartans last season. In that time, he threw for 553 yards and six touchdowns.

“It looked like he was more comfortable today than he’d been a little bit throughout spring ball,” Odums said. “It looked like he had more command of his reads and went to the right places. Again we’ll look at film to confirm that, but from just a naked eye, it looks like he was making the right reads and putting the ball in the right places.”

Copiah-Lincoln Community College transfer JaVon Tott and former Phoebus High star Nolan James followed Sapp in the quarterback rotation. Tott and Virginia State transfer Tayshaun Porter connected for a long touchdown pass that surpassed 60 yards.

Wide receiver Aaron Moore was also spotted getting some reps during the game. The wide receiver transferred to Norfolk State last year after four seasons at Old Dominion. His season was cut short last year due to injury and Odums said it’s good to have a vertical threat like him back for another year.

Odums praised the Spartans’ offensive line after the game Saturday, saying their communication has noticeably improved.

“They missed a couple of plays, but for the most part, they really did a good job,” Odums said. “…(Garrison Wheatley) is one of the smartest centers and gets them lined up and then they communicate between the guards and tackle, but that comes with experience. Now we didn’t always have that, but to have that group that had a lot of snaps played, you can see that we got a chance to be really special on offense when we get some more pieces of that puzzle.”

On defense, Odums thought the front seven did a good job of attacking the quarterback and was happy with the early returns from the defensive unit as a whole.

“I really thought the first couple guys, first couple of strings that we got, our two deep, did an outstanding job of communicating rush lanes and just really executing the play call,” Odums said.

With spring practice now complete, Odums said he’s most proud of the growth the team has shown. Moving forward, he said the biggest thing Norfolk State needs to work on is developing its depth.

“We’re just a couple guys away,” Odums said. “Recruiting now is year-round, so we’re going to see how we hold up. The portal is getting ready to open; hopefully, you can maintain the guys that you got and hoping you can put some guys together with them. If you can do that, you got a chance to really, really be good coming out of summer camp.”

Michael Sauls (757) 803-5774,