Head Coach Mike Turk on Day 4 of preseason camp: "We've been trying to emphasize to the guys that we have to get a little bit better each time we're out here. We still have a long way to go and we need to continue to get better, but we are making progress and we're starting to do some things well.
"We've made most of our installations, so that allows us to go back and review some things and go over things a little more in depth. Now should be the time when we really start to get better, especially on offense."
Position Spotlight – Linebackers
A Closer Look: A position that was a source of concern entering last season, the Hawks' linebackers proved themselves in 2016. Starters Trey Hayes, Brandon Williams and Austin Washington finished first, second and fourth on the team in tackles last season and combined for 212 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 4 ½ sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbled, five fumble recoveries and nine passes broken up.
Hayes, a second-team All-Region selection last season and the USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, led the USA South with 90 tackles and four fumble recoveries last season. He also had 13 tackles for loss, 3 ½ sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three passes broken up.
Williams earned first-team All-Conference honors as a freshman and was Huntingdon's second leading tackler with 71 stops. He also had five tackles for loss, one sack, and two passes broken up. Washington has been among the Hawks' top-five tacklers the past two seasons and finished with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and four passes broken up last season.
Turk on the starting unit: "Having those three guys back is huge. They are all very good football players. They have experience and they know the defense. They've been there and done that so many times that it brings a comfort level to the defense."
Turk on the depth at linebacker: "Our depth at linebacker is a strength. Behind Trey and Brandon, we have Cedrick Lowe, Hank Parker and Cameron Compton, all of whom played some for us last year. Those are three guys who have played for us that we can feel good about putting in the game. As for the newcomers, freshman Linell Tarver is starting to make some strides as far as being a guy who will probably play for us this year.
"What we're trying to find right now is Austin's backup. We need someone who is going to be able to go in the game without us missing a beat. We have a couple of guys who are battling for that spot."
Next Practice: The Hawks return to the field at 3 p.m. on Sunday for the first practice in full gear. Practices are open to the public.