Northwestern State coach Jay Thomas names J.D. Almond starting quarterback for 2017 opener

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SHREVEPORT – The tradition of the Independence Bowl Foundation/Northwestern State Kickoff Luncheon in late August stretches back almost a quarter-century, so the Demons always try to make it extra special.

Thursday, the supporters from the Shreveport-Bossier area listening to NSU head coach Jay Thomas were delighted when he announced one of their hometown heroes, Haughton High School product J.D. Almond, will be the Demons’ starting quarterback in the season opener next Saturday night at Louisiana Tech.

Almond ended his junior season last November starting NSU’s final three games after he began the season sidelined by a bad case of poison ivy. This year, his August has been infinitely more active and impressive, although there were strong challenges from junior college transfer Clay Holgorsen and redshirt freshman Kenny Sears.

“It was heavily competitive and we believe we have three guys who can step on the field and move the offense,” Thomas said. “J.D. gives us the senior leadership. He has started games for us and this team believes in him, so we have a lot of confidence in him being our guy.

“Clay Holgorsen will also be ready to play. Kenny Sears really came on strong in the last week, doing a fantastic job to the point where he’s now in the mix,” said Thomas. “We’d like to try to get the other guys some time on the field. It’s all about the game flow.”

The tipping point for Almond, said Thomas, were the intangibles.

“His leadership and work ethic is unmatched. He’s played games here. When you’re going into a big game like we are next week, you the steadiness, you need the confidence, and he brings that to the table. I’m excited for J.D. and there’s no doubt he’s going to do a good job for us.”

Thomas said the rest of the NSU depth chart will be solidified over the weekend. The Demons will practice Friday, have a mock game Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in Turpin Stadium, then ramp up preparations for Louisiana Tech.

He and the Demons coaches have been watching film of the Bulldogs already in preseason.

“You can’t help but do that. They’re so good,” he said. “The last couple of days we’ve been heating it up and next week we’ll really start game prep.”

NSU is keeping an eye on Hurricane Harvey and the weather spawned by the storm. Thomas anticipates perhaps adjusting the normal game-week practice schedule to accelerate game plan installation.

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