Freshman RB Spruill shines during Hens’ final scrimmage

Khory Spruill

NEWARK — Khory Spruill’s college career had barely begun.

But the Delaware freshman running back already felt like he was falling behind.

The newcomer had to sit out the start of the Blue Hens’ preseason football practice while he took part in an academic program through Aug. 11.

“I was getting anxious,” Spruill admitted. “All the other guys were getting work every day. I just wanted to get my respect.

“I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, he’s a freshman. How is he just not practicing but he’s getting reps?’ But, most importantly, I just felt as though I was falling behind.”

After getting on the field last week, however, the 6-foot, 215-pound newcomer is trying to make up for lost time.

And, with the Hens depleted at running back right now, coach Danny Rocco would like to see Spruill get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Spruill got his share of carries on Tuesday night as Delaware held essentially a dress rehearsal scrimmage for its season opener on Aug. 31 against Delaware State.

“I like what Spruill is doing,” Rocco said on Saturday. “He’s a ball carrier. He’s big, he’s working himself back into shape. We’re going to play him. We’ll see how this thing shakes out.”

The Hens were left shorthanded when starter Wes Hills was declared inelegible just when camp started. Junior Kareem Williams, who did suit up on Tuesday, has been kept out of practice with a broken finger.

Lackawanna transfer Kani Kane (Sussex Tech) is also pushing for playing time.

Then there’s Spruill, who played for Washington, D.C. power DeMatha Catholic. He ran for 967 yards with 11 touchdowns as a senior.

“They told me, just be ready for August 31,” said Spruill. “That’s what I’ve been doing so far — just getting ready to play. The biggest part I was behind on was conditioning. But I knew all the plays. I was there with everybody in the film sessions.

“I’m excited. I’ve always been the underdog and had to earn everything I got.”

Spruill said he feels a responsibility not only to Delaware’s football team but to his family as well.

“I’m really the first person in my family to be able to do this — to play Division I football and go to college for free,” he said. “A lot of family members are depending on me and a lot of younger guys (back home) are looking up to me. I just want to pave the way.”

Walker to start

As expected, Rocco said Tuesday that Joe Walker will be the starting quarterback against DSU.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior has started 20 of the 21 games he’s played in for Delaware.

“I think his leadership was really strong this summer,” said Rocco. “And I think he has learned the offense well. He understands it, he communicates it well and his efficiency was better here this summer.

“Just like any position, there’s going to always be competition. We’re hopeful to be able to give some players an opportunity on Thursday night to compete and show us when they can do. Obviously, J.P. (Caruso) would be one of those guys.”

On Tuesday night, Walker hit receiver Diante Cherry with a 15-yard scoring pass for the only touchdown of the scrimmage.

Caruso, the transfer from Appalachian State, played mostly with the second-team offense.

Henderson making his mark

Freshman Nolan Henderson almost certainly won’t play this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the freshman QB from Smyrna High hasn’t made an impression on his coaches.

“He’s going to be good,” said Rocco. “Sometimes what you need is time. If you look at our roster, he could be 18 months into this thing before he really has to be ready to step in there.”

As proof of the coaches’ confidence in him, Henderson is expected to run the Hens’ scout team this fall.

Besides Spruill, the other true freshmen that Rocco expects to play right away are receivers Ty McElhenie and Thyrick Pitts along with defensive tackle Dominick Covatto.

Ticket sales up

Delaware announced that it has sold 900 season tickets so far — double the total from last season.

Previous season ticket holders have also renewed their season tickets at a rate of 88 percent.

Both numbers are the highest for the Hens since 2010.

Delaware’s players were excited by the news.

Senior center Brody Kern said Rocco has shown the players video of games when the Delaware Stadium stands were full.

“Everybody was like, ‘Wow,’” said Kern. “And I was like, ‘We can have that. But we’ve got to win.’”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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