The uniforms are still green, and the team is still a bit green, too.
The Long Island University football team completed its first spring practice on Monday in preparation for its first season as a Division I program. The Post campus unified with the Brooklyn campus in October, creating one athletics program that will adopt a blue and gold color scheme. A mascot has yet to be chosen.
With other spring sports still in season, the team is not yet wearing blue. That’s the least of head coach Bryan Collins’ worries, as he lost 22 players — 20 to graduation and two transfers — and returns only five starters on each side of the ball. Thirty-one signees give him numbers to work with.
“We graduated so many players from last year, a lot of these players didn’t have any playing time,” Collins said. “Now’s their time to shine and open some coaches’ eyes.”
Collins’ eyes widened watching redshirt-junior Clay Beathard, a transfer from Iowa Western who is the younger brother of 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard. A quarterback who came to LIU in January, the younger Beathard took most of the first-team reps after completing 55.2 percent of his passes on 116 attempts last season.
Incoming freshmen Camden Orth and Luke Sprague will enter the quarterback competition during the summer, Collins said, as LIU looks to find its replacement for Chris Laviano.
“Today was really the first day I was able to see [Beathard] throw,” Collins said. “First impression, he’s very competitive. Most of his reads were pretty much on the spot. It looks like he has a good, quick release. Very accurate. Strong enough arm to make all the throws.”
Of course, Beathard comes with an intangible teammates can’t mimic. Having an NFL quarterback in the family gives him an advantage, though Beathard joked he often tells his brother what he should work on — not the other way around. Speaking seriously, he said he’s learned how to improve in all areas.
“There’s a point, I think — I’m not saying to settle on your motion or how you throw — but there comes a point you have to take it to the next level mentally, and that’s what separates the good quarterbacks,” Beathard said. “Sitting with him, picking his mind on what he learns in the NFL is definitely helpful.”
Derick Eugene, who caught eight passes for 110 yards as a red-shirt sophomore, praised Beathard’s mindset.
“He gets hard on himself,” Eugene said. “I like to see that from a quarterback. He holds himself accountable to the team and just the same way, we should have the same accountability toward him.”
Ushering LIU into Division I won’t weigh heavily on Beathard’s mind. He said he didn’t transfer across the country to do anything but play football.
“Everyone can throw a ball,” Beathard said. “But if you can take away all the cool stuff that looks good and just keep your head in the book and know that you’re doing the right thing and read defenses, that’s me doing my best on my part.”