In spite of a high turnover in Emporia State’s offensive lineup this fall, head coach Garin Higgins doesn’t believe that the expectations will change for his team.
He may have to exercise a little more restraint than he’s had to in recent memory however.
“My expectations probably don’t change, I think maybe just my patience is a little bit better and that’s what I’m working on,” he said. “Our guys that have been here before ... have done a good job of really showing those guys how things are done. It is a little bit different for me, but I understand this group is different than last year. When you’ve coached as long as I’ve coached, you figure those things out, where patience is definitely key. As coaches, we’ve got to make sure to take our time and coach these guys up and do some things extra with them.”
That’s been a focal point for coaches and returners alike in the early stages of the Hornets’ camp, which began with meetings on Sunday and carried onto the field Monday and Tuesday. With a lot of folks working to secure starting jobs or place themselves in a mix for playing time, a high precedent needs to be set.
“We’ve had really good leaders in the past and I know I’ve got big shoes to fill,” senior running back Kai Callins said.
Callins is easily the most experienced returner among the Hornets’ offensive skill players. He enters his senior season after losing parts of two seasons due to injuries.
That extra time, however, has also proven to be quite a learning experience.
Back in (20)14, those first few practices, I was going all out, 110 percent all the time,” he said. “It took a toll on me as the weeks (went) along. I’ve gotten used to that pace. (Now) I know how fast we go and I know times I really need to pick it up and times where I need to (slow) it down a little bit.”
ESU, selected sixth in the MIAA’s preseason coaches and media polls, has high ceiling, but a number of positions that will need to prove themselves as the season goes along.
That includes at quarterback, where sophomore Dalton Cowan is expected to take the reigns from MIAA Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Marstall.
The Hornets will also look to replace six of their leading seven receiving options from a year ago, as well as their lead running back.
“I just expect people to be hungry,” Callins said. “Last year, we talked a lot about Tyler Harris, (Justin Brown), Braxton, Landon (Nault), we talked about those guys all the time. (Newer players) want their name to be called out I think they’re hungry, they have a lot of talent, I think it’s going to be interesting year.”