Storylines, storylines, storylines.
The University of West Florida enters its spring football game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening with many of those floating around.
The biggest elephant in the room is in regards to former quarterback Austin Reed, who departed the program in the offseason for a Division I opportunity with Western Kentucky University. Undoubtedly, this has left a large void where there should be a signal caller.
UWF had a senior-heavy class last season, with potential NFL talent like safety D'Anthony Bell and wide receiver Ka'Ron Ashley, one of the program's four pioneers who had been around since its inception in 2015, highlighting the departures.
All of that comes after a first-round home overtime playoff upset to Newberry College.
The Argos have become accustomed to smooth sailing in their brief history, so this offseason has been somewhat unprecedented. But under the instruction of head coach Pete Shinnick, things always sort themselves out.
Thursday's spring game will give fans a chance to monitor these headlines for themselves, so here are some things to keep an eye on as the season approaches:
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Everything this program has achieved started with former quarterback Austin Reed. After a redshirt freshman season at Division I Southern Illinois University, he chose West Florida as his next destination in 2019.
In his inaugural season, he passed for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, taking the Argos to their second NCAA championship game and winning their first.
This past season, he passed for nearly 3,500 more yards and 38 touchdowns, being nominated as a finalist for the Division II Player of the Year.
Now for the first time in program history, they won't be able to rely upon his next-level arm and playmaking. Someone will have big shoes to fill, but who will it be?
Brett Nezat, Redshirt Freshman
Standing at 6-foot-5, this transfer addition comes from Division I Arkansas State University. In his one season there, he redshirted, only participating in spring practice.
However, the Argos hope to unleash some of his high school magic. At Saraland High in Saraland, Ala., Nezat started from his sophomore year forward, achieving a 37-4 record. He passed for 1,539 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior, getting recruited by Power 5 schools like Kansas and Syracuse.
His pedigree shows promise, and the staff will see if it comes to fruition this spring.
J Greene, Sophomore
Hailing from Mobile, Ala., the 6-2 quarterback spent last season learning under the tutelage of Reed. Though he didn't log any games played, the learning curve was invaluable.
It's yet to be seen how he can produce on this stage, but during his high school days at St. Paul's Episcopal, he was dual-threat. During his senior campaign, he threw for 1,555 yards and 15 touchdowns while generating 428 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
If Greene is the one trusted to step in, it'll give the Argos a different offensive dynamic as Reed was, for the most part, all arm.
Wyatt Eget, Graduate Student
The Valencia, Calif. native was one of two backups to get time behind Reed last season. He was the primary guy the Argos went to off the bench, potentially giving him the early upper hand in this competition.
In those six contests, he tossed for 71 yards on 8-of-14 attempts, also giving up an interception.
Once a Division I player at the University of Tennessee-Martin, Eget could blossom into a full-time candidate with more first-team reps under his belt.
Corey Wilsher, Redshirt Sophomore
The lone Florida product in the quarterback room, Wilsher enters his third season with the Argos from Citra, Fla..
Last season he made appearances in just two games, going 0-for-4 on his passing attempts, but his potential could be untapped.
At North Marion High School, he was selected for the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game and the North Florida All-Star Game, as well as being named a two-time First Team All-Area player.
With the positive reputation they've built nationwide, UWF has turned into a destination for Division I transfers. Always towards the top of the Division II totem pole, the program draws talent who wants to stay on the radar.
This offseason, the Argos added seven more athletes off their 21-player signing class that have played at the Division I level.
But a few names in particular jump off the list that are expected to have some impact in their first season with the team.
Deonte Sheffield, RB, Redshirt Senior
Sheffield moves a little bit closer to home with this transfer. Once a Niceville Eagle, the former Florida State University running back joins the Argos, bringing him just one hour away from his hometown.
More importantly to the Argos, he brings with him a body of work that will continue to make them elite on the ground. As good as it was passing last season, UWF rushed for 1,644 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2021. That combination kept defenses guessing.
At 5-11, 200-pounds, his build and powerful approach will be the ideal supplemental skill set around running back Shomari Mason. Mason had a breakout season in 2021, getting it done with fancy footwork and agility.
In 2019, Sheffield started the Seminoles' Sun Bowl versus Arizona State where he rushed for a career-high 87 yards on 18 carries. Over the next two seasons, his role was reduced to special teams, so a chance to get a heavy workload in the Argo backfield will be much welcomed.
Mystikal McGhee, WR, Junior
An all-time name and a Pensacola-area native, McGhee finally gets his homecoming after stops at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Fort Scott Community College.
He comes at the perfect time as the Argos lose wide receivers Ka'Ron Ashley and Rodney Coates to graduation. He'll have the chance to step in and earn himself a role from the onset.
At Fort Scott last season, he showed some explosion, going for seven catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns in a game versus Dodge City Community College. That was his second-consecutive seven-catch game, as the week before he corralled the same amount of passes for 73 yards versus Hutchinson Community College.
Flashing the ability to break loose often, he should at least find himself in the slot as a check-down option in UWF's lethal air raid.
Practice turned to game field
Remember, UWF's Pen-Air Field is no longer just a place for it to practice. This season, the Argos will host all of their visitors on campus.
With their former venue Blue Wahoos Stadium putting in a turf field via MLB regulations, the Argos were left with the cost of filling the dirt base paths for their home football games. With those prices through the roof, UWF has opted to play its home games truly at home.
When they hosted their first-ever on-campus home game last season, the school rolled in some bleachers for the fans, and used a scaffolding structure for their media and stats crew. Little did they know that test run would be crucial in preparing for a full season.
The school plans on making some more permanent arrangements for fans and media alike, but those are yet to be determined.
Want to follow?
What: UWF Football spring game
Where: Pen-Air Field (UWF Campus)
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: Free admission
Lucas Semb can be reached at Lsemb@pensacol.gannett.com or 850-281-7414. Follow him on Twitter at @Lucas_Semb for stories and various Pensacola area score updates.