PHOTOS BY THE FLASH TODAY
STEPHENVILLE (August 8, 2017) — There were 105 of them, dressed in purple and white, just like in years past.
But the Tarleton State team that opened preseason camp Tuesday had a different look to it. And no, it wasn’t just the shiny new turf at Memorial Stadium.
Size, lots of it, have been added to the Texan team particularly on both front lines, with an offensive line that will very likely average 330 pounds or more.
Tarleton worked through individual, group and team phases in all three phases of the game, including head coach Todd Whitten standing back at the 20 yard line in the northwest corner of the field keeping an intent eye on drills to get off blocks and downfield in punt coverage.
The Texans are not yet allowed to wear full pads, but they did don helmets. Still, there was no missing linemen weighing north of 300 pounds, some up to 370 and new defensive tackles – one with a slight injury – also tipping the scale a little past 300.
It’s the second season of the third go-round as head coach at Tarleton for Todd Whitten, the winningest (55) coach in the school’s senior-college era and architect of the 2001 national quarterfinalists and LSC Co-Champs. He was hired in December of 2015, giving him next to no time to reach out to potential mid-term junior college transfers and very little for recruiting high school athletes before national signing day in February of 2016.
Tarleton was 3-7 the season before Whitten was hired, and 5-6 last year despite being undersized and often injured on both front lines and having a run game that at times was – Whitten’s words – non.-existent. The defense, under new coordinator Marcus Patton, improved from allowing 50 points per game and forcing just nine turnovers in 2015 to an average of 25 points and allowed and a whopping 30 takeaways last fall.
More on the Texans coming as preseason camp progresses, with the season opener set for Saturday, September 2, at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.