VALDOSTA -- You'd think it would be a little different for Valdosta State football this spring coming in as the reigning Division II national champ.

Not really, says Blazers' head coach Chris Hatcher.

"It hasn't been that much of a different feeling," Hatcher said. "I thought it would be, but we've been expecting (championships) and we preach it to our guys. We've been doing it for so long, hey, this is just what we're supposed to do."

Hatcher and Blazers kick off the annual Red and Black Spring Game, the head coach's sixth at Valdosta State, today at 7 p.m. inside Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The format for the Blazers final scrimmage of the spring hasn't changed, with the Campus Recreation and Greek organization flag football teams combining with Valdosta State's Red and Black split squads.

The two flag football teams will play the first and third quarters and their scores will combine with the Red or Black squad each is teamed with. The Blazers will scrimmage in the second and fourth quarters. The first team offense will go head-to-head with the first team defense in the second quarter, while the second team and remaining reserves play in the fourth quarter.

After losing starting quarterback Fabian Walker off the 2004 national title team, Hatcher said his eye will mainly be on the quarterback position, but not necessarily on junior Barrett Wilkes, the starter in 2003.

"The biggest thing I want to see is how Lewis Kuffour and Clay Callaway perform," Hatcher said. "They'll take the majority of the reps."

Kuffour is a transfer by way of Tennessee Tech and Northwest Mississippi Community College, while Callaway is moving back under center after being converted into a wide receiver last season. The two are likely battling for a backup position coming out of spring practice.

"It could be," Hatcher said. "I want to see how they perform under the lights."

Hatcher said Wilkes will start for the Black team and Mitch Stewart, a fifth year senior, will start at quarterback for the Red team, which will actually wear white jerseys.

"Wilkes is No. 1 on the depth chart because he's really emerged here lately," Hatcher said, "but those other guys are mighty close."

The Blazers are only two deep on the offensive and defensive lines so depth is a concern up front Hatcher said, as is the defensive backfield.

"We want to see a couple defensive backs step up," Hatcher said. "We need to see Yohance Buchanan (Florida State transfer) get out of it and play hard. We're also hoping Dale Smith (New Mexico Military) can perform well."

The wide receiver position is also full of competition after several Division I transfers came to Valdosta State in the offseason. Hatcher said Wake Forest transfer Derek Tharpe has had a good spring, as did University of Georgia transfer Cedric Haywood and Murray State newcomer Erin Milton.

"Really it's new faces to go along with our Zach Parkers and Jeffrey Feltons and those guys that we know what they can do," Hatcher said.

Vincent Brown will start the first series at tailback and is the leader to take the spot of senior Tyran Robinson. After moving from the defensive backfield to wide receiver, former Cook County quarterback Thomas Arnold is in the running for a spot at tailback.

"Thomas Arnold is a guy I wouldn't be surprised to see have a big night," Hatcher said.

Former Dooly County wide receiver Chad Bryant is also battling for time at running back.

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