SMU opens spring comfortable with QBs

SMU opened spring practice Monday with a lot of questions, especially in the offensive backfield. Many of those answers came after the first of 15 sessions was completed.

Coach June Jones raved about the play of quarterback Kyle Padron, who enters spring camp as the starter, but was supposed to get a hefty challenge from New Mexico State transfer J.J. McDermott.

Padron and McDermott are the only two scholarship quarterbacks this spring after Bo Levi Mitchell transferred and Braden Smith moved to safety.

“Already you can tell his confidence in what he’s doing,” Jones said of Padron, who started six games after Mitchell suffered an injury. “He’s worked real hard with [assistant head coach] Dan [Morrison], spending time on the films, and he’s going to get better and better. It’s so fun to have a quarterback that now gets it, and J.J. looked good today, too. He’s a very capable quarterback. So we’re going to have some guys that can throw it in the barn there.”

Padron’s confidence and experience will take some pressure off the running game, which will be young after star Shawnbrey McNeal decided to leave school early for the NFL.

Zach Line, last year’s backup, will miss spring practice as he recovers from an injury, so finding the back to replace Jones’ first-ever 1,000-yard rusher probably won’t happen until the fall. The Mustangs have signees Darryl Fields and Kevin Pope arriving in the summer.

Jones said both players will play this year instead of one of them redshirting like he originally planned.

“We’re going to miss Shawnbrey. Shawnbrey’s a good football player, but we have some young kids coming in and we’ve got some young kids on campus that are good players,” Jones said. “I think as Kyle gets to being more efficient throwing the ball, which obviously he’s going to be this year, it certainly gives the runner an opportunity to make some plays.”

Jones said the entire offense will be limited this spring with seven offensive players recovering from injuries and offseason surgery.