On Saturday, the University of Memphis football team left South campus and traveled to the Liberty Bowl for the first time this season.
The Tigers moved their annual fan fest from south campus to the stadium for two reasons. One, the coaching staff wanted to play in the stadium for fan fest. But there was a strategy in play as well: they wanted the players to get reacquainted with the playing surface.
The last time the team was in the stadium was for the spring game. Saturday’s two-hour practice did not reveal much; several key players did not participate, among them Joey Magnifico, Sean Dykes and Damonte Coxie.
However, two newcomers were impressive in the scrimmage: Redshirt freshman RB Kenny Gainwell; and Kylan Watkins, the redshirt sophomore WR and Whitehaven graduate. Both players dazzled the 2,000 fans in attendance with some highlight plays.
“Kylan has been phenomenal since spring,” said Head Coach Mike Norvell. “He finished up on a very high note and he has continued it here. Kenny is an explosive player. We know he has a chance to impact this team.”
Backup quarterback Connor Adair also showed some flashes in the scrimmage. Adair has not been announced as the backup quarterback to Brady White since Brady Davis transferred from the school earlier in the week.
Chris Claybrooks, the convert offensive player, has been having a great camp playing defensive back. Many players have switched positions this season, including Josh Perry and Austin Hall, two defensive backfield players now playing linebacker.
“I am really pleased with what I saw with the defense,” said Tigers Head Football Coach Mike Norvell. “Guys were flying around and playing with a lot of confidence. I feel the defense came out and got the best of the offense today.”
After the scrimmage, the players and coaches were available for photos and conversations with the fans. The Tigers will travel to Jackson, TN later this week and will play another scrimmage that will be open to the public at 10 a.m. on the Lambuth campus on Saturday August 17.