Logan • It’s not just practice.
It’s Bengal versus Cobra — a Florida thing.
Long before receiver Travis Reynolds and cornerback Nevin Lawson were lining up opposite each other at Utah State football practice, they were suiting up for rival high schools in Broward County.
It’s clear they have tapped into some of that prep gridiron past while sparring this spring.
“You know, we’re familiar with each other,” Reynolds said.
They were more than familiar before they were teammates with the Aggies, facing off in 2008, when Lawson was a junior aside to shadow Reynolds.
The Florida natives paint the game in broad strokes. Lawson, in particular, remembers being burned.
“In the first half, he got the best of me,” he said. “But I think in the second half, I got the best of him.”
The historical record is mostly confined to the memory of the players, but Reynolds helped Boyd Anderson roll to a 24-14 win over Lawson’s school, Piper. Lawson said it was decided “on a bad call by the referee.”
These days, the rivalry is still raw, but only in the interest of making the team better. Lawson is the top returner in the secondary, while Reynolds is showing he could take on a bigger load this fall. They have traded pass break-ups and broken tackles in camp, but they only exchange barbs on the field.
“It ain’t nothing new going against Nevin Lawson,” Reynolds said. “He’s a great corner. Look for him on draft day.”
Lawson is complimentary as well.
“Travis is underrated for the things he does,” he said. “To me, he’s a heck of a receiver. We push each other to get better, but off the field, we’re like brothers.”
Anything the two Floridians talk about? Anything they miss?
In morning practice at Romney Stadium, Lawson could think of only one thing.
“Right now, probably just the warm weather,” he said, clutching his arms.
New role no problem
If not for Tyler Larsen, it might have fallen to Jamie Markosian to take snaps. But Markosian has done just fine at guard, starting alongside the two-time first team all-WAC center.
Now Markosian is at center because of Larsen, at least for now.
Larsen is sidelined until the fall during camp, so it’s been Markosian to snap the ball to Chuckie Keeton and lead an offensive line unit with high expectations. The first team offense would be better off with Larsen, he said, but he’s happy to fill in.
“It’s just a little change-up, and it’ll help me out,” he said. “In the long run, when Tyler gets back, I’ll be back at guard and hopefully we’ll roll on like nothing happened.”
Aside from Larsen, Markosian, Kyle Whimpey, Kevin Whimpey and Eric Schultz are all returning starters. The unit has played like it in practice, helping free up Keeton for throws and also helping Joe Hill break off some nice runs.
Coach Matt Wells said he’s felt comfortable with Markosian stepping in, given his experience at the position — he took snaps last year at center, but didn’t start. They miss Larsen, but not as badly as they might have otherwise.
“It’s different, especially when he’s got a 300-pound nose guard over top him while he’s making the calls,” Wells said. “He’s been a good leader there.”
A unique rivalry
In high school
Travis Reynolds • Had 48 catches with 545 yards and five touchdowns as a senior for Boyd Anderson High, earning all-Broward County honors
Nevin Lawson • Notched 68 tackles and three interceptions as a senior for Piper High and was second team all-Broward County
At Utah State
Reynolds • Eight starts in 2012, with 25 catches for 244 yards and a touchdown
Lawson • Started 28 games in his career, and recorded 63 tackles, 10 pass break-ups in 2012