There has been nothing routine about David Osborn’s two offseasons as Smackover’s football coach.
A year ago, Osborn’s first offseason with the Bucks was interrupted after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic halted all sports across Arkansas from mid-March until June.
Now Osborn has two new coordinators in place with Jerry Stegall being hired from Junction City to run the offense with David Preston returning to run the defense.
So far, the transition has been a smooth one.
“It’s been going well,” Osborn said. “We have picked up a few players this spring and have around 28 at this time. We focused a ton on strength and conditioning and have seen several kids make big gains in the process.”
With Stegall’s arrival, Osborn said the Bucks have worked diligently on offense during spring practices.
“During the spring we have really focused on our offense,” Osborn said. “Jerry has done a great job and has come right in and started installing the system. Right now we have about 80 percent of our run game for the season in. As we go through the summer with 7-on-7 and camps, we will continue to add and install our pass game.”
Preston was the Bucks’ defensive coordinator from 2012-16 when Smackover reached the state finals on one occasion and the semifinals on two others along with winning three straight conference crowns.
Osborn, who was the offensive coordinator at the time, said his familiarity with Preston will make the transition an easy one.
“We had worked together for several years and when we had a few openings, it worked out for him to get one,” Osborn said. “He had quite a bit of success here, and we have a familiarity with each other, so I’m looking forward to bringing him back in.
“We think alike quite a bit so it will be an easy transition on the defensive side of the ball. We both will look to cause confusion and bring quite a bit of pressure with the corresponding coverage to match.”
Osborn will get his first up-close look at the Bucks on Monday when they head to El Dorado for a 7-on-7 event.
“It will be our first time out in 7-on-7, so we will really be focusing on ourselves,” Osborn said. “We will be using it for conditioning and to get the kids out to compete. Being the first 7-on-7 of the year, I really want to see us get out there and play. We were originally scheduled to go to UAM (Arkansas-Monticello) on June 3, but had to cancel since we were still in school due to the extended school year.”
Osborn said the Bucks will be competing in several 7-on-7’s and team camps during the summer, including one that Smackover will host.
“We are going to attend a local 7-on-7 a few dates to get a few games in,” Osborn said. “I also am getting a team camp together in July with a few other locals that we will host. We really would like to get a few more team camps in July. The 7-on-7’s are great, but I always feel like we get more out of team camps. In a 7-on-7, you typically see teams do stuff that they will not do during the season.”
Osborn said the Bucks’ skill position players have excelled in workouts.
“Of course our skill guys have stood out,” Osborn said. “D’Kylan Hildreth, Daylon Curley, and Jarius Burgie have shown multiple times that they have the ability to change the game at any time. They have worked hard in the weight room during the spring and you can see the physical changes in them both on and off the field.
“Both of our quarterbacks (Tyler Sexton and Cole McNeely) have started to come on and have picked up the system well. Tanner Mitchell and Trace Davis have both stepped up as sophomores and worked hard during spring.”
Osborn has also been pleased with the development of the offensive line.
“On the offensive front, I have been impressed with our guys and the desire to improve,” Osborn said. “They know going into the year that is an area we need to improve in both depth and play.
“Right now, we have 15 in that group, which will help to improve the depth after we had only eight last year. Lamon Hicks and Elisha Stanley have both come on at guard and have been impressive.
“Both are quick, strong and smart kids. Hicks is a sub-5.0 40 guy who squats 600 pounds and benches 365.
“Overall, it has been a good spring for us. It’s the first time we have gotten to do any spring ball in about four years.”