Earlier today the Bears hosted hundreds, if not thousands, of football fans for their annual Meet the Bears event. While Meet the Bears usually showcases a scrimmage, this year it was pretty much a glorified practice due to a NCAA rule that states full pads cannot be used until your fifth practice. The practice held this morning marked the fourth for the Bears.
While not a full scrimmage, there was still plenty of excitement, as well as a lot information that could be taken away from this morning's practice. Yesterday came with the news that Clay Fuller had broken his collarbone and would be out for 6-8 weeks, speculation began on who would replace him in the Bears vaunted offense. The fan favorite to replace him of course was K.D. Cannon. There was also some thinking that a more experienced Lynx Hawthorne could fill in while Clay recovered, thus allowing the coaches to save Cannon's redshirt. Well I do not know if that is going to happen as Cannon was easily the most explosive player on the offensive side of the ball today.
The practice began with drills for each position group, moved on to one-on-ones for WRs and DBs, then went to 7-on-7s, and then finally a full-team practice where each team went up against their corresponding team (1v1, 2v2, & 3v3). In one-on-ones Cannon beat starting safety Orion Stewart on a deep ball and took it to the house. Then during the full-team practice Cannon beat the coverage twice for two long touchdowns coming from the arm of Bryce Petty. Cannon got reps in both the first- and second-team offenses. Hawthorne also got reps with the first-team offense, so the battle for Clay's spot might not be over, but the talented freshman's skills might be able to beat of the experience of his older teammate.
Cannon was not the only freshman that was getting reps with the first-team offense, as fellow freshman Davion Hall was catching balls from Bryce Petty as well.
Going into camp Tim told us a few things to keep an eye on, which were pretty much the secondary (mostly the cornerback position), outside linebacker, and the left offensive guard position.
The secondary stacked out like this. First-Team: CB-Terrence Singleton, CB-Xavien Howard, CS-Terrell Burt, & DS-Orion Stewart. Second-Team: CB-Tion Wright, CB-Ryan Reid, CS-Taion Sells, DS-Alfred Pullom. It should be noted that Chris Sanders did not practice due to a pulled hamstring that he is nursing. The absence of Sanders and his fellow transfer Tion Wright taking his place was the only difference from the post-spring depth chart.
Besides Burt getting torched by Cannon on two deep routes, I was impressed by how our first team secondary played. Howard is extremely physical in his play, and he uses both his size and speed to his advantage. Terrence Singleton, A.K.A. Freaky-T due to his freakish athleticism, also played well. On one instance, Singleton was step-for-step with his man and was in perfect position to defend the ball, he was basically glued to the wide receiver.
Aiavion Edwards manned the outside linebacker position on the first-team defense today, while the pint-sized heat seeking missile Taylor Young played for the second-team. This position battle will be interesting to see play out. Edwards has the measurables, age advantage, and experience (though limited), but Young, while undersized, is a playmaker. There was one instance where Edwards read a running play the wrong way, Gush and Bennett immediately started tearing into him, so he still has some things to learn.
The last position battle of interest is the one for left offensive guard position between LaQuan McGowan and Blake Muir. Today, McGowan received the most snaps at left offensive guard, while Muir got one drive at the position and spelled McGowan on occasion during later first-team drives. This might be how the season goes, with McGowan starting and Muir intermittently replacing him later in games. McGowan got beat by Oakman on the first drive, allowing Oakman to sack Petty. Petty gave McGowan some encouragement between drives and he performed well for pretty much the rest of the day. At one point during a drive we had McGowan, Drango, and Armstead all lined up next to each other on the left side, have fun with that Big 12 defenses. Interestingly, Muir started the day alongside McGowan at left tackle for the first-team offense, but was replaced on the next drive by Spencer Drango, who played the position the rest of the day.
Other notes of Interest: All four of the Bears' scholarship running backs got carries with the first-team offense, Terence Williams runs hard and looks like he could perform if called upon. Freshman Safety Chance Waz had a productive day playing for both third- and second-team defenses, as he picked off both Chris Johnson and Seth Russell. He read the the quarterbacks eyes and jumped the route to complete both of his interceptions. Ishmael Zamora is jacked, he has put on at least 20 pounds since showing up here and it shows. I cannot wait till he plays. Also, in attendance today were a couple of recruits in 2015 4-star RB Baylor Commit JaMycal Hasty and 2016 4-star DE Baylor target Erick Fowler.
Finally, My Stars of the Day: K.D. Cannon and Chance Waz. These two freshman really impressed me today. Cannon looks to be everything he has been built up to be, and he is quickly changing my stance on redshirting him. Waz seems to have impressive ball skills and could be a major ball hawk for the Bears in the future.