Hughes Era Begins Friday Afternoon with First Spring Practice
CANYON, Texas – The Hunter Hughes era begins Friday at 4 p.m. as the West Texas A&M football team begins spring practice at the practice fields at the Buffalo Sports Park. The practice is open to the public.
“Both the players and coaches are excited and ready to get to work,” Hughes said. “I am eager to see the coaching staff work together and teach the players the fundamentals and schemes we are implementing for the future. I am anxious to see the players compete. This is a time for them to separate themselves and establish themselves as leaders of this program.”
Hughes was hired in December as the 28th head coach in WT football history and came to Canyon after a very successful career as the defensive coordinator at Colorado State-Pueblo where he was the mastermind behind the ThunderWolves’ 13-0 shutout of then-No. 1 Minnesota State in the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship, which handed CSU-Pueblo its first NCAA national title in school history.
He has put together a quality staff of coaches who have had great experience regionally and nationally and the team welcomes back a number of key contributors from last season’s team, which posted its school-record 12th consecutive winning season.
The Buffs return both quarterbacks in upcoming senior Ethan Brinkley who passed for 1816 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, along with upcoming junior quarterback Ben Arbuckle who passed for 1241 yards and 15 touchdowns. In the backfield, 2017-18 sophomore Trent Canion returns, along with upcoming junior P.J. Leonce, who also factored into the return game.
2017 seniors Junior Pome’e and Ja’Quarius Daniels highlight the receivers returning as Pome’e caught 35 balls for 482 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns last season, while Daniels had 35 catches for 325 yards and two scores. Pome’e earned second team all-conference honors last season. 2017 senior Eppy Henriques also returns at wide out.
Up front offensively, the Buffs return upcoming senior Dillon Vaughan, along with junior Travis Vornkahl who both started all 11 games last season earning honorable mention all-league honors in 2016. Upcoming senior Moses Mondesir also started all 11 games on the offensive line. Vaughan earned LSC All-Academic honors and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
The defense returns 2017 junior defensive back Lee Anthony Dawson who earned first team all-conference honors last season as he played all 11 games and started ten. Dawson had 49 total tackles with 39 solo stops, ranking second on the team, while recording nine pass breakups with one hurry and led the team with three fumble recoveries for 19 yards, ranking him seventh nationally and second in the Lone Star Conference.
Also returning defensively is upcoming senior defensive lineman Daelin Young who earned second team all-league accolades last season as he led the team in tackles with 78. Young had a team-high 57 solo stops, along with 15 tackles for loss for 60 yards and a team-best 6.5 sacks for 51 yards. Upcoming sophomore defensive lineman Gerred Johnson had a big first year for the Buffs in 2016 as he earned honorable mention all-league honors finishing second on the team in tackles for loss with seven for 22 yards. Fellow 2017 sophomore Hayden Dennis played in nine games with eight starts recording 49 tackles and 23 solo stops at linebacker and earned honorable mention honors.
Current sophomore safety Chazz Slatinsky earned honorable mention honors as a true freshman in 2015. He played in nine games with four starts as a sophomore and finished with 52 tackles ranking fourth on the team, while recording 1.5 tackles for loss for five yards, one INT, three pass breakups, one hurry and one forced fumble earning honorable mention accolades. Current junior Austin Williams had a big first year for the Buffs as he earned honorable mention honors at linebacker playing in all 11 games with 47 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss for 12 yards, one INT with 34 solo stops.
Upcoming senior defensive lineman Solomon Perdue earned honorable mention honors as he finished fifth on the team in tackles in 2016 with 50, while recording five tackles for loss for 13 yards, one sack, along with two hurries and one forced fumble in ten starts.
WT is scheduled to have 15 practices during spring camp, including the spring game scheduled for 10 a.m. on April 22 at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
Check below for the complete spring schedule and keep in mind dates and times for spring practice are subject to change.
The 2017 season kicks off Sept. 2 at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium against 2016 NCAA playoff qualifier Azusa Pacific for the first of three consecutive home games. Colorado State-Pueblo visits Sept. 9, followed by the Lone Star Conference opener against UT Permian Basin on Sept. 16. WT will have seven home games in 2017 and Homecoming 2017 is scheduled for Oct. 14 against Adams State in a non-conference matchup.
Check back with www.gobuffsgo.com for the latest football news and information on all of WT’s 17 intercollegiate sports.
2017 Spring Football Practice Schedule (subject to change)
Mar. 24 – 4 p.m.
Mar. 26 – 4 p.m.
Mar. 28 – 4 p.m.
Mar. 30 – 4 p.m.
Mar. 31 – 4 p.m. (Coaches' Clinic)
Apr. 1 – 1 p.m. (Coaches' Clinic)
Apr. 4 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 6 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 7 – 7 p.m. (Kimbrough Memorial Stadium)
Apr. 9 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 11 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 13 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 18 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 20 – 4 p.m.
Apr. 22 – 10 a.m. (SPRING GAME)