TU football notebook: Kevin Wilson on Day 1 of fall camp: 'I need the guys who throw and catch footballs to do a lot better'

Daniel Allen
Tulsa World Sportswriter
Through one day of fall football camp, Tulsa head coach Kevin Wilson had mixed emotions.
“The offensive throws and catchers… they’ve been awful. They’ve stood out to me the most.”
Wilson was quick to back his statement.
“Hey, you guys didn’t say standing out, good or bad.”
What initially sounded as a compliment toward his offensive unit, quickly transitioned into one of disdain. Granted, Tuesday was Day 1. But Wilson, an offensive guru, wasn’t hesitant to call out his offensive unit, despite the anticipated rustiness that usually comes with the early stages of fall camp.
And then he noted the merit in such a strong early outing from his defensive unit. He was quick to commend defensive coordinator Chris Polizzi on a quality showing Tuesday morning.
“I think there’s some really good defensive players (who are) mature,” Wilson said. “I think coach Polizzi (is great). And we have some really good guys on defense.”
While Wilson did point out some positives from his offense, he noted that drastic growth was needed ahead of the team’s season opener. He and the rest of his staff have four weeks to mesh each unit into their ideal form.
Wilson pleased with quarterback depth
According to Wilson, five names will make up Tulsa’s quarterback room.
As Wilson said: “the more the merrier.” Not to mention, the larger the quantity, the more depth his team will have within the most paramount position groups for offensive success.
Sophomore Braylon Braxton — who practiced with the “ones” in the first day of the Golden Hurricane’s fall football camp — is expected to hold the reigns of the TU offense. Braxton took over as the starter last season ahead of TU’s second-to-last game of its 2022 campaign, against USF. With him under center, the Golden Hurricane finished last season 2-0, averaging 42.5 points per game and 502 yards per game offensively.
And his hot end to the 2022 season translated to the offseason. First when Braxton entered the transfer portal, receiving interest from, “quite a few” notable college programs. And then when Wilson gave Braxton such a well-executed — in Braxton’s words — pitch, resulting in his withdrawal from the transfer portal.
“It has hit me (knowing I’m the leader of the offense),” Braxton said Tuesday morning. “But I kind of just tried to do my best of being my leader for my teammates and being the guy that they can count on. The quarterback is the energy of the team, so I kind of always try to have high energy and always bring the juice.”
Redshirt freshman Cardell Williams is another name Wilson voiced his excitement toward and did so multiple times during Tuesday morning’s fall camp opener.
A native of Houston, Texas, Williams chose the Golden Hurricane over Houston, New Mexico, McNeese State and others.
Redshirt sophomore Roman Fuller and walk-ons Kirk Francis and Stephen Kittleman, both former Tulsa high school football standouts — Francis at Metro Christian a season ago and Kittleman at Jenks — were mentioned as feasible suitors for the backup quarterback position.
“They ain’t just depth pieces,” Braxton told the Tulsa World. “Cardell (Williams) is legit. You just gotta watch him play. He’s so elusive and versatile. (He’s) got a great arm too.
“Kirk (Francis), you saw what he did at Metro Christian last year and then Kittleman ain’t bad either. We’ve got a really good quarterback room for sure.”
Spurrier masterclass?
Braxton wasn’t coy when asked about his initial impression of TU offensive coordinator, Steve Spurrier Jr.
“He’s very unpredictable,” Braxton said. “You really never know what he’s thinking. So, you’ve always got to be on your toes with coach Spurrier.”
Spurrier Jr. likely gets his offensive prowess from his father, Steve Spurrier Sr. who revamped the Duke Blue Devil and Florida Gator football programs, before spending 11 seasons as the head coach of South Carolina. Spurrier Jr. worked under his dad through his entire tenure in Columbia, learning from one of college football’s most renowned play callers.
Now, Spurrier Jr. is at Tulsa, coaching under a spread offense innovator in Wilson. Not to mention, both make great use of the up-tempo offensive approach.
“Coach Spurrier is just as much of an up-tempo guy as me, I’d like to think,” Wilson told the Tulsa World in June. “We’ll see how things play out. But I think he’s gonna do a really good job with our offense.”
He’s had the mentorship. He has the support of his boss and team. Now, it’s a matter of putting his offensive philosophies to work. And in less than one month, Spurrier Jr. will call his first game as a true offensive coordinator when the Golden Hurricane opener the 2023 at H.A. Chapman Stadium against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

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