The third Maroon-Gold Spring Game under Coach Dennis Francione will kick off at 6 p.m. on April 6 at Bobcat Stadium, but for the players the game began on Wednesday.
Captains were chosen, and the Bobcats held a draft to make up the Maroon and Gold teams Wednesday afternoon with strategy and winning already on the minds of the players prior to setting foot on the field.
“You know, I’ve done this so many times that I’m almost surprised every year,” Franchione said. “I mean sometimes you think they’re going to take this quarterback surely, and they don’t. You can kind of tell what they think of their teammates.”
The Gold Team received the first pick of the draft, taking senior defensive lineman Blake McColloch. Junior running back Chris Nutall was picked second overall by the Maroon Team.
“It’s always interesting,” Franchione said. “Some guys get a depth chart and they study it, and they come prepared. And some of them come in and just fly by the seat of their pants. It’s always interesting to see the strategy of who is picked first, second or third.”
Senior quarterback Duke DeLancellotti has participated in the Franchione Maroon and Gold Draft before and shared his insight of what goes on in the draft room. DeLancellotti believed defensive players would dominate the beginning of the draft, going against his offensive roots.
“They’ll probably start picking some good defensive players,” DeLancellotti said. “It’s always good to have a good defense in the spring game. Then you have to look for some playmakers on offense.”
However, apart from the top pick in this year’s draft, offensive players dominated the next five picks. Two running backs were taken, followed by a quarterback, offensive tackle and finally a wide receiver.
Senior safety Aaron Matthews believes there were tactics involved, but with such a deep team, the combinations are endless.
“I feel like it’s pure strategy,” Matthews said. “We have players everywhere that can be used as viable assets towards the spring game. I’m very interested to see what the spring game will be like.”
With the rosters now set, the captains have a 24-hour window to make any trades to solidify their lineups. The coaches will monitor the player movement to make sure both teams will be able to operate properly in a game.
Even with uncertainty in the air that goes along with any draft, one thing was clear: friendships accounted for nothing in the draft room.
“They want to win. It’s not a popularity contest,” Franchione said. “For the most part, I think this is a respect contest. They were going to pick whom they respect, and who can help them win. In my experiences, that always takes precedence over their friends. They want to win. They want to kick their friends’ tails.”
The roster is subject to change before game time.