CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Spring football is underway for the Charlotte 49ers coming off the program’s best season ever.
Last year, they went 7-6 which is their first ever winning season and they went to their first ever bowl game.
The big question this year is how do they top 2019?
“You win a bowl game,” said coach Will Healy.
Yes, there is still plenty more to accomplish for this program after they got pounded in the Bahamas Bowl by Buffalo 31-9.
“Now that you have done it the first time, the expectations change,” said coach. “You’re not happy to just be there anymore. I think that taste of getting your rear end kicked in the bowl game should help motivate us throughout the season and should help us stay more focused when we get to that point.”
This is the 2nd spring practice for the Niners under coach Healy and the practices have been crisp because of that familiarity.
Some key pieces off of last year’s team are gone like running back Benny LeMay, offensive lineman Cam Clark, and defensive end Alex Highsmith. All 3 will participate in the NFL Draft combine and have a great chance of being selected in April’s draft.
There are a bunch of new faces in the fold including running back Tre Harbison, who is transferring in from Northern Illinois and played high school ball at Crest High School in Cleveland County.
And then there are new coaches like Lee Grimes, who will be over the offensive line.
Charles Bankins is the special teams coordinator.
Mark Carney is the new offensive coordinator. Carney served as the quarterbacks coach last season (still serves in that capacity in 2020) but was promoted to OC in the off season. He is very familiar with the current offense and not much will change. That is music to the ears of QB Chris Reynolds.
For the first time since coming to Charlotte, Reynolds is not fighting for the starting QB job heading into spring practice. He is firmly entrenched after he was the 16th best QB in the country in passing efficiency in 2019. But now is not the time to get content with just having the starting job.
“That chip is always going to be there,” said Reynolds. “At the end of the day it’s just instilled in me. It’s been like that since day one. I’ve been the guy that’s been overlooked. I’m not going to stop working just because I’ve gotten somewhere. Now it’s time to take it to the next level.”
The 49ers will wrap up spring practice with the spring game on March 21st at Jerry Richardson Stadium.