After 10 days of preseason football practice, the Charlotte 49ers scrimmaged for the first time Saturday in Richardson Stadium.
“We took the philosophy of a first scrimmage that we wanted to look at everybody – the (second and third teams), the freshmen,” coach Brad Lambert said. “So you get everybody in there to take live shots, to see how they do in the open field making plays.”
Lambert said true freshman running back Maetron Thomas was especially impressive, as he’s been since camp opened July 30.
Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder from Stockbridge, Ga., signed with Charlotte in February after also receiving offers from Furman, Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Hampton.
“Maetron really ran the ball hard,” Lambert said. “He’s been doing a good job and we’ve been pleased with him.”
Lambert said two other true freshmen – defensive back Tre’Shun Wynn and receiver T.L. Ford – have also played well enough in the preseason to earn playing time this fall.
“They might factor into this thing,” Lambert said.
Wynn played at Monroe High and was the most valuable player of last season’s N.C. 2AA championship game. Ford originally committed to Kansas State before changing his mind and signing with the 49ers.
Lambert said the first-team defense played well during the 100-play scrimmage, although he cautioned that most of its plays came against the second-team offense.
The 49ers have been struck with injuries, especially at the H-back spot, where Justin Bolus (shoulder) and Richard Murphy (hamstring) have missed time. Lambert said they should both be ready for the season opener Aug. 28 at Campbell. Linebacker Nick Cook is also recovering from a hamstring injury.
“I like where we are,” Lambert said. “We’re just beat up at some spots that you wouldn’t want, like at the H-back. That’s hurt us a little bit.”
But Saturday’s scrimmage was a chance for players backing up those players, including freshman H-back R.J. Tyler, to make an impression.
“It’s going to be good for these guys to come in and see who missed blocks and who missed tackles,” said Lambert. “It’s going to be critical for guys to take the next step after they look at the film.”