Cats open spring drills

The first day of spring drills was as much about who wasn't participating as who was participating. A number of key players were out of action, while a number of newcomers made their debuts.

The biggest name not participating was Richard Kovalcheck. The Cats' starting quarterback is out after back surgery and will not participate in spring practice.

He is playing a vital role. The coaches want him actively involved, not just a passive observer. He is charting plays and constantly jotting down notes on the clipboard he was holding. He consulted with QB Adam Austin throughout the practice, giving him advice and also getting a feel for the junior's decision making process.

Austin took all of the snaps today and looked pretty good. He was 10-15 with a pick in the full team session. The only pick came on a pretty good play by a defensive end who dropped back into a zone blitz.

Mike Canales was very pleased with his play and thinks he can be a very good player. He may not challenge Kovalcheck for the starting job, but he looks to be a solid back-up. Canales was very pleased with his ability to take things from the chalk board and apply them on the field.

The Cats added a third quarterback. Walk-on Jason Argos suited up today, but saw limited action. It's safe to say that he's a little on the thing side.

Onto the running backs. All three runners look bigger. Mike Bell mentioned that he has added nine pounds since the end of the season and he feels it will help him break tackles. He said that he expects to see plenty of time at the slot and in other positions that will allow him to get the ball in space and use his speed and shiftiness.

The wide receiver group was bolstered by the arrival of B.J. Vickers. The junior college transfer is the biggest receiver in the group. Despite being 6-2 and almost 220 pounds, he is a smooth, fluid runner with good hands.

Tight end Brad Wood is noticeably bigger, his arms are huge. Brandyn McCall also has great size and looks pretty athletic.

I didn't get a great look at the offensive line but will try to see more of them later in the week.

The defense was hard at work. Defensive tackle Byron Smith made his Wildcat debut and he has great size. He and all of the defensive tackles are off limits to the media, as are a number of other newcomers.

Some of the players who have been held out of action include Darrell Brooks and Paul Phillip who are allowed some light running. On crutches were Michael Johnson and Sean Jones. B.J. Dennard was in a sling after injuring his shoulder last week in passing drills.

Some other new walk-ons to join the team are Andrew Ford (DB), Jimmy Caldwell (FB) and Greg Tate (DT).

Sheldon Watts may not be playing anytime soon after being shot last fall, but he was on hand and will be helping out as much as he can.

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