First session set for Sunday.
"That's the key word this spring," said new S&T football head coach Tyler Fenwick.
He indeed has a lot of evaluating to do over the next month.
Fenwick, hired as the 19th football head coach in S&T school history two weeks ago, gets his first look at his new players on a field Sunday, when the team kicks off its spring football practice.
The Miners will take to their practice field around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The squad will generally hold practices on Tuesday mornings, Thursday mornings and Saturdays during this year's spring drills, ending with the annual spring game at 11 a.m. May 4 on Jackling Field at Allgood-Bailey Stadium.
In all S&T can get in 15 spring practices.
Fenwick said he expects 75 or 76 players at the first spring practice. A few players will be missing due to injury or participating in S&T spring sports or the school's co-op program.
"Just figuring out who we have; try to fit the pieces," Fenwick said of his goal in his first spring season at S&T. "Other than evaluating, it's installing the offense and making sure we get the base offense in.
"We want to see what our strengths and weaknesses are going into the fall."
Fenwick takes over his first collegiate head coaching position after having spent the previous six seasons as offensive coordinator at Missouri Western. He will be calling the offensive plays for the Miners as well.
He takes over a Miner squad which sparkled during a 10-1 2012 campaign, including a 7-1 mark and second-place finish in the inaugural Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) football race.
However, most of the skill players from that high-scoring Miner offensive squad were seniors who must be replaced.
S&T returns the most experience on defense.
The Miners finished second in the NCAA Division II in quarterback sacks with 45. The top four sack leaders return in senior tackle Eddie Rascon (6-2, 240) (13 sacks), senior end Freddy Dugard (6-1, 220) (11 sacks), junior end Jimmy Barnhart (6-1, 240) (7 sacks) and junior tackle Josip Juric (6-2, 260).
Also back are starting linebackers Chris Emesih (6-0, 210), who has led S&T in tackles the past two seasons, and Chris Horn (6-1, 205) and defensive backs Mark Hopkins (5-11, 185) and Chris McKay (6-1, 210).
A new starting quarterback will have to be found, as two-year starter Josh Firm is gone. And two of the QB candidates will miss all or most of spring drills, as sophomore Reed Brown ((5-11, 190) is a member of the Miner baseball team and sophomore Evan Merz (6-6, 230) is taking part in the schools co-op program.
The 1-2 receiving punch of Smook Thomas and Joseph Hyman, who put up dazzling numbers last fall, will have to be replaced. The top receiver back is senior Isaiah Culver (5-10, 185), who caught 26 passes a year ago.
Scott Hendricks (5-8, 175), who rushed for 609 yards as a red-shirt freshman last season, is the top running back returning; he shared time with departed Curterris Golden, who was the team's top rusher.
Anchoring the offensive line at left tackle is two-year starter Forrestal Hickman (6-8, 305).
Fenwick said the Miners will not make drastic changes as far as philosophy on either side of the ball.
"Terminology will be the big difference (on offense)," he said. "Just learning a new language. But there will be a lot of carryover. We'll have a little more of a multiple formation; we'll use tight ends a little more."
After evaluating in spring practice Fenwick said there is a possibility additional recruits could be added.
"We've got a little bit of room financially and scholarship-wise," he said. "You don't want to bring in an offensive lineman just because. I only want to bring in someone that is good.
"But we'll be able to do a few things if we need to."