With the start of fall camp about a month away, Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson is encouraged by quick recoveries by a pair of key players on offense.
It's Maberry who has made the most improbable recovery after suffering a torn ACL midway through December while the team was preparing to take on Florida State in the Independence Bowl.
“They actually said he's like three weeks ahead,” USM head coach Jay Hopson said on Tuesday. “He should be ready to go.”
Maberry showed plenty of promise during practice last year after signing with the Golden Eagles out of Clinton High School. He was expected to play a prominent role this year as the running back most similar in style to Ito Smith, who is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
The 5-foot-9, 191-pound Maberry had 54 total touchdowns during his career at Clinton and rushed for over 2,600 yards in his last two years of high school while sharing the ball with Florida State star Cam Akers.
“He's a strong, quick back and he can run,” Hopson said of Maberry.
Maberry will be part of what should be a crowded backfield that includes redshirt senior Tez Parks, redshirt senior George Payne, redshirt freshman Steven Anderson and senior T'Rod Daniels. Freshman Trivenskey Mosley, a Shreveport product, also has a shot to join the mix in fall camp.
'Ahead of schedule'
Griggs also sat out spring practice after having foot surgery.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Greenwood native completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 1,879 yards, 16 touchdowns and two interceptions in 10 games last year.
“He's looking good right now,” Hopson said. “I'd say he's ahead of schedule. I anticipate him being full go.
“He had some discomfort in the back of his heel so they did some touch-up surgery. He could have actually probably played without surgery, but we wanted to make sure he was 100 percent.”
In his absence, junior Keon Howard and redshirt sophomore Jack Abraham saw the majority of snaps in the spring. Howard had a strong spring game and appeared to have the edge on Abraham entering the summer. Howard, who played in nine games last year, completed 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards and ran six times for 53 yards in the spring contest.
Redshirt freshman Marcelo Rodriguez and freshman Tate Whatley will also try to make a run at the starting quarterback job, but Howard and Griggs carry plenty of experience into the fall.
If either Howard or Griggs show that they can improve their completion percentages, that may be enough to get the start in the Sept. 1 season opener against Jackson State in Hattiesburg.
USM made a key addition following the completion of spring with the arrival of Southwest Mississippi Community College defensive lineman De'Mikal Chesser.
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Chesser, who is a native of Forest, will have three years of eligibility remaining for the Golden Eagles.
Hopson described Chesser as a “multi-dimensional” player who could also play defensive end.
Another junior college player expected to join the defensive line depth chart is Nick Dawson, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end from Northeast Oklahoma A&M.
“We're counting on him getting here in July,” Hopson said. “You're talking about a bandit end. Nick is already a physically gifted guy. You're talking about a guy that's got an NFL frame.”
Dawson also received offers from Arizona, Memphis and New Mexico.