During his freshman and sophomore years, linebacker William Smalls sat behind NFL prospect Brandon Hepburn, who led the team in tackles during his final season. Smalls recorded 18 tackles during his first two seasons.
But after this spring, the Atlanta native made a strong bid for one of the starting inside linebacker positions.
Smalls had two interceptions, returning one 33 yards for a touchdown, and led the green team with eight tackles during the annual spring scrimmage.
"I think Smalls is now trying to come into his own," head coach Earl Holmes said. "Last year, I thought he took a step back. Now, he's starting to show his maturity; his leadership, as well as his skills."
Michael Morris, a freshman tight end from Jacksonville, Fla., finished the scrimmage with three receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson University transfer Demont Buice, a running back from Gadsden, Ala., led the orange team in rushing with 57 yards on 14 carries. Buice, who committed to FAMU in January, tied a single-season touchdown record in Alabama his sophomore year of high school with 47 total touchdowns.
"He was moving the line," Holmes said of the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Buice in the scrimmage. "He always fell forward to fight for those two or three yards."
Freshman walk-on running back Omari Albert scored the only rushing touchdown for the orange team and rushed for 25 yards on seven carries. In his senior season at Wekiva High School in Orlando, Fla., Albert recorded 1,232 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
"It's about the effort, going out there and giving it your best every day, especially when you're trying to establish yourself," Albert said.
In addition to the three weeks of spring practice, the scrimmage gave Holmes and his coaching staff a chance to evaluate players and assist the coaches in developing a roster for the upcoming season.
"We'll find out exactly who our guys are going to be in the fall," Holmes said. "Right now, [the players] are auditioning for a job. I don't have any starters but the starting quarterback."
Quarterback Damien Fleming completed eight of his 14 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the orange team's 31-26 victory. "I felt like we did pretty well as an offense," Fleming said. "Everything new we had coming in … and us adjusting to all the signals, I believe everyone did pretty well."
Holmes said it wasn't a bad effort by the team, but the roster is incomplete. "We're missing some pieces," Holmes said, "but some guys caught my eyes."