Fall Camp Day 3

Arizona football moved one step closer to full contact as the Wildcats donned shoulder pads for the first time in fall camp. While I focused on the wide receivers and linebackers, the Wildcats focused on 11-on-11 work.

The Cats had two separate ½ hour 11-on-11 sessions. With shoulder pads on, the players seemed more anxious to hit. There was not supposed to be any hitting but on a few occasions players could not help themselves.

Richard Kovalcheck continues to take the majority of the snaps, but Willie Tuitama is turning some heads. He throws so hard that one onlooker compared him to former Washington State passer Drew Bledsoe.

Last year the wide receiving crew was a weakness. They were just too inconsistent last season, dropping passes they shouldn't and never consistently stretching the field.

Although it is just three days into the fall camp, the receiving corps are looking like they could be a strength. Syndric Steptoe continues to be the steady, solid leader of the group. He does not really blow you away, and his lack of height makes him hard to miss, but he just makes catch after catch.

The most impressive receiver has been Mike Jefferson. The El Paso native is noticeably bigger and has been making play after play. He looks to me like he is finally maximizing his natural ability.

B.J. Vickers continues to show that he has the skills to be a big time player in the Pac-10. So far in camp he isn't quite as dominant as he was in the early parts of spring ball, but he still looks very good.

A key to the offense may be Anthony Johnson. Johnson was showing signs of being a solid pass catcher before getting hurt last season. After than he was never the same. Johnson has great size and is hanging on to the ball. He is just as likely to run over someone as he is to run around them.

Although Johnson is usually the one doing the hitting, he was laid out by Michael Beach on a pass that was too high and left him exposed to the corner.

Don't count out Michael Thomas either. The true freshman is getting a lot of reps with the first team. He may be under six feet but he can fly. "Money Mike" is dangerous in the open field. He could be one of the steals of the class.

When looking at the linebackers the guy who first jumps out at you is Ronnie Palmer. The redshirt freshman is just so big, yet he really moves well. He looks like he can be a sideline to sideline linebacker. It will be fun to see how he hits when the team goes full contact.

Everywhere you look you see Dane Krogstad. He has a knack for being near the ball. He is tough against the run and the Cats are finding ways to keep him in the field in passing situations. That move paid off on Saturday as Krogstad picked off a pass that he had a chance to take to the house had the coaches not blown things dead.

Xavier Kelley needs to add some muscle, but he is just so fast. Right now he does not look as big as Lamon Means. He may have trouble seeing the field at linebacker this year, but with his nose for the ball he could be a key special teams guy as a true freshman.

Spencer Larson is not seeing any practice action, but he is supposedly ahead of the game right now. He is working hard with the trainers. He did one drill on Saturday that had many of us shaking out head. He stood on one leg, all his weight on the injured knee and the trainer gave him some light pushes, forcing Larsen to keep his balance. Despite the injury Larsen stayed up. He never even needed to put his foot down to keep his balance. The pushes were not hard at all, but I am not sure I could do that with a healthy knee.

Adrian McCovey is another imposing specimen. He is taller than most of the backers, but still motors. The thought of he and Palmer on the field together is very, very intriguing.

James Alford moves very well, but he needs to show the instincts at the position. Randy Sims may be a little guy, but he was really sniffing out the run on Saturday. There had to be three or four plays where he was waiting in the hole for the running back and on a few other plays he shot through a gap and made things happen in the backfield.


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