Five things Eddie George, Tennessee State football must get done in spring practice

After achieving its first winning season in six years in 2023 the Tennessee State football team under coach Eddie George has five specific areas where it must improve in spring practice.

The Tigers, who went 6-5 in George's third season, have several key players returning and are breaking in a handful of transfers in the spring.

TSU wraps up the drills on April 13 with the Blue and White Spring Game at Hale Stadium.

Tennessee State football quarterback improvement is a must

Quarterback Draylen Ellis is headed into his third season at TSU, but this is the first spring practice in which he has participated.

After transferring from Austin Peay, Ellis arrived at TSU in the fall of 2022 and started in 10 games. Ellis missed the 2023 spring practice, however, due to grade issues then returned in the fall and split time as the starter with Deveon Bryant.

Bryant graduated so Ellis, who completed 103 of 196 passes for 1,075 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions in 2023, is getting the bulk of the first-team snaps this spring.

A couple of FBS transfers − Tevin Carter from Memphis and George Hamlsey from LSU − were set to challenge Ellis for starting reps, but neither has proven to be much of a threat so far.

Former Overton quarterback Ryder Hagan, who played in two games last season, is further down the depth chart along with Youngstown State transfer Demeatric Crenshaw.

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Figuring out Tennessee State's running back attack

The Tigers are in the best position they have been at running back under George, a former Tennessee Titans running back.

Senior Jalen Rouse and junior Jordan Gant will be featured in the backfield. Rouse is using the spring to get back into condition after missing three games with injuries. Gant filled in nicely when Rouse was out and played in 11 games and led the Tigers with 553 rushing yards on 144 carries and scored 10 touchdowns.

Antwone Parker, the biggest back on the roster at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, is a junior college transfer attempting to get into the mix along with Ike Brown, a transfer from Lane who played in six games in 2023.

Tennessee State has receivers fighting to be No. 1

The Tigers never settled on a No. 1 receiver in 2023. There are plenty of receivers with experience and the coaching staff is trying to identify a No .1.

In the mix is DaShon Davis, who led the Big South/OVC in average yards per catch (27.1 yards) last season, along with Dayron Johnson, former Franklin Road Academy standout Lance Wilhoite, a transfer from Oregon, Jalal Dean, a transfer from Tennessee Tech, Solomon Dunn, a transfer from East Tennessee State, and former Overton star Delanie Majors.

Karate Benson, who had a total of 53 catches for 606 yards and three touchdowns over the last two seasons, is sitting out the spring with an injury.

TSU needs to find enough reps for strong defensive line

The defensive line is the strength of the team. The only problem has been getting enough reps for each of the key players.

Defensive end Terrell Allen, who led the FCS in sacks (14.5) and tackles for loss (28), is in the rotation along with George's son Eriq George, an FCS Freshman All-American, Chris Walker, Tyler Moore, a 3-star prospect from Locust Grove, Georgia, who enrolled in January, and Trinity Valley Community College transfer Cameron Blaylock.

Tackle Jalen Bell, who had an outstanding season in 2022 but was injured in the 2023 opener at Notre Dame, is back and on the first team.

Georgia Southern transfer Kierron Smith is expected to come out of spring as the starting nose tackle.

Tennessee State needs two new linebackers

All Big South/OVC middle linebacker Monroe Beard is back after leading the Tigers in tackles (95) last season, but help is needed at the other two linebacker spots.

Ahmad Nelson, Micah Gay and former Ensworth star Sammy Taylor each have experience and are battling to step in as starters.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee State spring football: What Eddie George must get done