Back to basics, rookies' first practice

Considering there were at least five 300 pounders at practice, it was astounding that a 185-pound punter stole the show in the first rookies' practice. Danny Baugher, the USA Today All-American, boomed a number of kicks that had on-lookers making comparisons to former Wildcat standout Josh Miller.

"Baugher looks like the real deal," John Mackovic said. "I liked what I saw. Good hang time I know that."

The coaches were not charting the kicks, but estimated that most of his punts traveled around 45 yards and were in the range of 4.5 seconds of hang time. The kicks exploded off of his foot and just hung in the air. The returners had difficulty judging the kicks, which just kept sailing.

Baugher wasn't the only impressive newcomer in the morning practice. Although the team just went through the basics, the size and athleticism of some of the players is very apparent.

"The guys looked good," Mackovic said. "I was real pleased with everybody and the way that they came out."

The first thing you notice is the size of a number of the players. Linemen Tanner Bell, John Parada and Carl Tuitavuki are just enormous. Despite their immense size, the three are very mobile.

"The big guys can move around," Mackovic said. "One of the things we talked about in recruiting bigger players is that we didn't want them to be like totem poles, we want them to be able to move."

OL practice
Linemen go through drills.

Most of the day was set aside to go over the basics. The coaches worked on stances, snap counts and some basic formations. A lot of time was set aside for working on huddles. If the offense did not break the huddle to the coaches' satisfaction, they were required to do it again. It appears as if every small detail is being looked at.

A number of players stood out for different reasons. After initially working with the defensive ends, Tuitavuki worked alone with coach Marty Long and showcased some good agility for a player listed at 350 pounds.

"Carl moved around well," said Mackovic. "He's a big man."

Wide receiver Biren Ealy and safety Lamon Means are also players who stand out in a crowd. Both are the tallest players at their positions. Ealy also showed solid receiving ability as he made the necessary adjustments to catch a few poorly thrown balls. Means, who is being looked at at the free safety position, is very athletic. At 6-3 he is a good five inches taller than the rest of the rookie defensive backs.

Lamon is a big athlete," Mackovic said. "We expected that he would come in and show up early in special teams and as a secondary player."

Ryan O'Hara played well. The highly touted quarterback showed nice touch when working with receivers. Mackovic was pleased with the way he picked things up in practice.

"Ryan did fine," said Mackovic." We don't have much to be able to judge him yet. He's real smart. He picked up huddles, snap counts and formations real quick.'


*Beau Carr was suited up, but mainly served as an observer. The running back is still undergoing tests of his cardio vascular system to determine if he has an illness. Coach Mackovic was uncertain of his status until results of the tests were complete.

*Defensive end Paul Phillip is out indefinitely as he continues to recover from summer shoulder surgery. Phillip participated in stretching and conditioning, but will be held out of contact and weight lifting for the time being.

*Wyoming transfer Matt Belshe is being used at quarterback. He and O'Hara split time taking snaps. Belshe was rusty and struggled a bit on his timing, but he's a versatile player that could also see time at linebacker down the road.

*Akin Akinniyi is being worked at WHIP linebacker and was given one-on-one attention from Coach Larry Mac Duff.

*The "starting" offensive line saw Keith Jackson at left tackle, Eric Levitre at left guard, Kili Lefotu at center, John Parada at right tackle and Tanner Bell at right Tackle. Levitre, a walk-on from Santa Cruz, Calif., stands 6-1, 276 pounds and was dwarfed by the rest of the linemen.

*Jake Belshe worked with the defensive ends, but lined up at defensive tackle while the defense was learning formations.

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