Nathan Brown, who has been through several springs as a player and assistant coach at the University of Central Arkansas, expects a competitive 15 practices as he begins his first spring practice as a head coach.

The Bears will start at 9 a.m. in shorts.

"The main thing is I look for a lot of competition," he said. "We have a relatively young team coming back and we have some major holes to fill. I told the players that every day, every rep will be evaluated. We have a lot of new coaches and everyone is starting with a clean slate. But I expect a lot of effort.

"There are several players who have been redshirted or have been in the background. It's time for them to step up and get a good luck."

He is excited about the cohesiveness of his new staff in how they attacked recruiting.

"What gets me very excited is I think we have some very good X's and O's guys," he said. "Some have been head coaches or coordinators at the Division I level. I'm very pleased with the cohesiveness of the staff. We have a good mix or young and veteran coaches."

Major competition will occur in the offensive line where "three or four spots are up for grabs. We have a lot of depth but we have to figure out how the cards will fall."

Breylin Smith and Kirk Baugh will begin as the top candidates at quarterback. Brown is also interested in taking a good look at some young wide receivers and determining which are ready to make an immediately impact.

"We need a couple of cornerbacks to step up and overall we have some young talent on the defensive front (including Austin Norris of Conway) who I would like to see take a step forward."

Wide receiver Brandon Myers (shoulder) and defensive lineman Cardell Best (leg) will be held out of spring with minor injuries.

UCA will practice Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of next week. The Bears will scrimmage Thursday night, March 15, then take off for spring break.

Another scrimmage is set for Saturday, March 31. The spring game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7.