Spring practice yields fierce competition for LA Tech’s wide receivers, running backs and fullbacks

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Greg Garner
Louisiana Tech junior running back Greg Garner (Photo: Tom Morris)

RUSTON, La. – Though there are a lot of familiar faces in the Louisiana Tech wide receiver, running back and fullback meeting rooms this spring, the competition on the field is as competitive as ever.

Louisiana Tech returns two starters at wide receiver in senior Isaiah Graham and junior Griffin Hebert. Last season, Graham started in all nine games he played in while registering 20 receptions for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Hebert appeared in all 10 games for the Bulldogs, making eight starts, and recorded 19 receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Hebert and Graham posted two-touchdown games in back-to-back weeks as Hebert had two touchdowns at Southern Miss (9/19) and Graham followed suit with a pair of touchdowns against Houston Baptist (9/26).

“There’s a lot of position battles going on,” Hebert said. “Everybody’s competing. We’re just coming out every day giving 110 percent. Everybody is really pushing everybody else. We look really good and I am excited about what’s to come in the fall.”

Joining Graham and Hebert in the 2021 wide receiver room are seven other letterwinners in sophomore Smoke Harris, freshman Tre Harris, redshirt junior Jawaun Johnson, sophomore Tahj Magee, redshirt freshman Kyle Maxwell, senior Praise Okorie and redshirt freshman Joseph Walker. S. Harris was named an all-Conference USA Honorable Mention at wide receiver in 2020 after appearing in eight games and making two starts. S. Harris led the team in receptions with 39 for 304 total yards and four touchdowns. In total, the returning receivers registered 108 receptions for 1,125 yards and 14 touchdowns during the 2020 campaign.

“The wide receivers have been doing a really nice job. We’re getting more and more comfortable with what we’re doing,” head coach Skip Holtz said. “I really like the way the receivers are working right now. They’re blocking their tails off which tells you a lot about the morale in the room right now. They’re being physical. They’re blocking. They’re really doing a nice job on the perimeter.”

Sophomore Doyle Adams Jr., redshirt freshman Jerrod Means and freshman CJ McWilliams have also returned from the 2020 season.

After losing starters Israel Tucker and Justin Henderson, the running back position is a competitive one this spring. The Bulldogs return three letterwinners in junior Greg Garner, freshman Harlan Dixon and redshirt freshman Jordan Myles. Garner and Dixon both saw action at running back during the 2020 campaign. Garner appeared in nine games during the season and carried the ball 33 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He had a career-high 40 rushing yards, including a career-long 24-yard rush, at Southern Miss (9/19). Dixon appeared in eight games and had nine carries for Louisiana Tech in 2020. Myles saw action in five games for LA Tech in 2020 as he appeared primarily on special teams.

“Our running back group is very competitive, physical and we’re having fun,” Garner said.

Joining the Bulldogs this spring is graduate transfer Marcus Williams Jr. Williams spent the last five seasons at App State where he appeared in 42 games and made six starts. Williams finished his App State career with 2,216 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for more than 500 yards in each of his four seasons played.

“(Garner, Dixon and Williams) are getting most of the work, but when you come to spring practice and you have an experienced team, you can do a whole lot,” Holtz said. “When you come out here with new guys that have never played, you start with two plus two is four. We’re being really simple with what we’re doing, but those guys are picking it up. They have some talent, and I’m excited to see where they are and how far they come from the first day to the last day.”

Louisiana Tech returns two letterwinners at the fullback position in junior Jacob Adams and redshirt freshman Carson Rieder. Adams made four starts in his 10 games played for LA Tech during the 2020 season. He had four receptions and caught his first career touchdown at UTSA (10/24). Rieder appeared in eight games during the 2020 campaign where he saw action both at fullback and on special teams.

“Jacob Adams is doing a great job,” Holtz said. “He’s been such a stability. He played a great role for us a year ago. Carson Rieder is getting better and better. I really like what those guys are doing. Those guys are two of your experienced guys who know what to do and every time we get in that 11-personnel and put that guy in there, he knows what to do. He brings leadership to the huddle. I love their attitudes with what they’re doing right now, but those guys have been working extremely hard and they have to be more of a part of what we do.”

Adams and Rieder are joined in the fullback meeting room by freshman Mason Dailey who appeared in two games for the Bulldogs in 2020.

“In the fullback room, we have a lot of competition between me, Carson Rieder and Mason Dailey,” Adams said. “We’re all working hard and pushing for that spot. We’re trying to make each other better every single day in coming out here with intensity and effort. We’re striving to be better every single day.”

Season tickets for the 2021 Louisiana Tech football season are on sale now. Fans can purchase season tickets online at LATechSports.com/tickets or by calling the LA Tech Ticket Office at (318) 257-3631.

For all the latest in Bulldog Football, follow them on Twitter (@LATechFB), Instagram (@LATechFB) and Facebook (LATechFootball) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.

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