As soon as practice was over the coaches had the defense run gassers, but it didn’t detract from the mood of practice. This year the environment is different. The players and coaches are having fun, which wasn’t the case last year.
The player turnout was greater than Monday’s. Coach Pat Hill stated early this week that he will have 85 scholarship players for the first time in his tenure when the newcomers report in August. There are still about 10-15 walk-ons that have not been identified this spring by BarkBoard.com.
Click here for pictures of spring practice #2.
The defensive tackles are as follows: Jason Shirley, Charles Tolbert, Jon Monga, Wilson Ramos, Mark Roberts and Cornell Banks.
Shirley is assured as spot at nose tackle. The battle is for the starting spot next to him. Tolbert has the early lead the first week of practice, but Monga is not too far behind.
Monga has the size advantage and is having a good spring thus far. But Tolbert looks determined and has been taking the most reps with the first team this week.
Ramos still looks a bit awkward at defensive tackle. He needs to add another 15-20 lbs of bulk to his 6-4 frame. And he is still learning the position.
The youngsters are fighting for some time. Roberts is a bit out of shape but moves very well. He should be in great shape by August. He is further ahead of Banks, who continually had to repeat drills.
Tyler Clutts and Jason Roberts are the starters. Clutts is the incumbent, but Roberts is hanging by a thread. He has added some weight but seems a step slower this year compared to last.
Michael Stuart is still a defensive end and now wears #55. Thoughts of moving the former high school tight end to offense will subside if he continues to have a good spring. He looks a bit lighter than his 245 lb listed weight but has looked good in 11 on 11 drills. His first step is quick and effective.
But the same can’t be said about Lewis. He has looked good during individual drills, displaying his speed and agility. But his play suffers when he opposes an offensive tackle.
Not too much to report, WLB Marcus Riley looks very good for not being 100%. He shows no sign of injury and can move just as well as he did before the USC game of 2005. Quaadir Brown has a stronghold at SLB. Until Trevor Shamblee returns to practice in August, Brown will share the field with Riley and MLB Ahijah Lane.
Todd Chisom has emerged and is getting reps with the second team defense. Nico Herron has switched numbers, #10, and positions. He has moved from the inside to SLB, where he currently backs up Brown.
Ryan Machado and Ryan McKinley are getting a majority of the second team reps. Ben Jacobs is lining up at MLB and is getting mostly third team reps.
Both quarterbacks timing is still a bit off but Tom Brandstater continues to separate himself. The only way Ryan Colburn is going to play this year is if Brandstater gets injured. It is still early but if the trend continues, Brandstater should have a solid season.
Walk on Matt Christian is throwing quite a bit. He runs the third team and probably will run the scout team until Matt Faulkner is ready.
Jamal Rashad has added some weight but hasn’t lost a step. He has a firm grip on the third running back spot behind Anthony Harding and Lonyae Miller.
Clifton Smith should overtake him once he is completely healthy. Smith is making cuts he couldn’t make last year and resembles the player that so many fans expected to see the last two years.
Fullback Raynard Camp is trimmer, faster and has some hands.
Seyi Ajirotutu, Chastin West and Bear Pascoe catch everything thrown their way. West has made some amazing, acrobatic catches the first two days of practice. But the biggest surprise of Wednesday was Shannon Dorsey.
Dorsey lined up at the slot and H-back spot, as well as, a receiver. He has made the transition to receiver well and gives the ‘Dogs another option on offense. He displayed great hands and great open field running in 11 on 11 drills.
The o-line is in great shape and is extremely deep.
Kenny Wiggins continues to look impressive. He will push current starters Kenny Avon and Bobby Lepori all spring for starting time at tackle. Chris Piligian is getting first and second team reps at left tackle. The senior played mostly guard his first three seasons.
Adam McDowell currently holds the starting spot at right guard but faces stiff competition from Andrew Jackson and Pierce Masse. McDowell had the best spring of any linemen last year. He is having another solid spring in just his second season as an offensive lineman.
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