GVSU football holds annual Spring Classic

GVL / Emily Frye
Marty Carter runs the ball down the field on Saturday April 14th, 2018.

GVL / Emily Frye Marty Carter runs the ball down the field on Saturday April 14th, 2018.

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State Laker football team hosted the annual Spring Classic practice on Saturday, April 14, in conclusion of the 15-practice spring schedule. 

The event, which typically takes place at Lubbers Stadium, was moved to the Kelly Family Sports Center due to inclement weather. The event is held to show fans, friends and family what the team has been working on during spring practice and give them a taste of what can be expected come August.

“We look good,” said running back Marty Carter. “There’s still room for improvement, but we’re looking real solid right now. Everybody’s real excited to go into summer ball, summer camps and just seeing how we’re looking. Other than that, we look good as a group.”

Four key players, including starting quarterback Bart Williams, were forced to sit out of spring practices in order to maintain their final year of eligibility, per NCAA rules.

Head coach Matt Mitchell and the Lakers did not view the absence of their signal-caller and other starters (tight end Pete Cender, offensive tackle Nick Fish and defensive end Dylan Carroll) as a negative. Instead, they viewed it as an opportunity to give other players a chance to emerge and show their worth on the team.

“I think we made some progress at some spots, solidified some guys in some spots,” Mitchell said. “We have the whole summer and probably another 15 padded practices to kind of sort some things out. It was an interesting spring because we didn’t have our starting quarterback there even though he’s going to play in the fall, so it really was an awesome opportunity for Cole Kotopka to throw the ball around.”

While Williams, Cender, Fish and Carroll will still be suited up in the fall, there are a handful of players from the 2017 team that are gone from the squad for good, leaving gaping holes in their positions. Wide receiver and linebacker, among other spots, will need to be solidified with players like Brandon Bean, Urston Smith, Collin Schlosser and Garrett Pougnet graduated.

“It was great to have Nick Dodson healthy and back,” Mitchell said. “Austin Paritee picked up where he left off in 2017, and then we had the emergence of some guys. Brandon Wadley really stepped up his role. I think you guys saw today what we saw in spring. Kordell Hoover, a freshman, made a couple nice plays over the middle and advanced the ball, and (running back) Jack Provencher made some reps in seven-on-seven.”

As far as linebackers are concerned, Mitchell named junior Isaiah Nkansah and senior Brendan McMahon (former Grand Valley Lanthorn writer) as players who have established themselves, along with some younger players who still have something left to prove in fall camps.

With spring practice wrapped up, the Lakers will turn their attention to finals before getting a handful of weeks to themselves in the summer. After that, they return to campus in preparation for fall camp before kicking the season off in August.

“(We’re) just really getting back in the groove, taking everything one day at a time,” Carter said. “Just trusting the process is really Grand Valley’s big thing. Take it a day at a time.”

The regular season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, when the Lakers welcome 2017 playoff participant University of Indianapolis to Lubbers Stadium in search of a revenge victory. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.