Owls' hard work pays off

FAU starts practice on good note

BOCA RATON Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith said the team's hard work in the offseason was evident during Friday's first practice.

"We had a really good first day and I definitely think the summer helped on that," said Smith.

"The kids were in good physical condition. They practiced hard. They didn't practice with a lot of precision, but precision will come," said coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Smith, a sophomore, comes into this season with the starting job locked up, a change from last year when he and Sean Clayton were in a battle through the first half of the season, until Smith finally won out.

"It's a different attitude for me and my teammates. They know they have a solid quarterback behind them and know I am going to step up and make the plays when it counts," said Smith, who passed for 1,285 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Smith believes there is a different atmosphere around the team with all but five starters returning.

"The morale, confidence level and leadership, everything is so much better than last year," Smith said. "We finished third in the conference last year, and we won't accept anything less than first this year. And everybody believes in that."


Frantz Simeon, last year's leading receiver, will miss the entire season because he is academically ineligible.

Simeon had 35 catches for 590 yards and one touchdown, and averaged 16.3 yards per catch.

"I think his position will be filled more than adequately," Schnellenberger said. "I don't think we'll miss anything with him being unable to play."

The loss of Simeon means sophomores Cortez Gent and Chris Bonner are now on top of the depth chart, with Chad Wilkes and Conshario Johnson behind them.

That could change, since Avery Holley, who played as a true freshman last year and was third in receiving yards with 223, is back following shoulder surgery that forced him to miss spring practice.

"There is a lot of competition. Everyone is going to come out hard and show the coaches what they can do," said Avery, who is from Pompano Beach and went to Ely.