Top Ten Stories of Spring Practice Revisited

The G-man continues revisiting the second part of the top ten stories this past spring. Prior to spring we gave out the top ten stories surrounding spring practices. Now that they've commenced we look back to see how each of the top stories unfolded.

The top 5 stories of spring ball were put forth earlier just prior to the first practice here.

5. Austin Collie

It was the tale of two halves for Collie this past spring. The first two weeks saw Collie making an immediate and strong impact in every rep being run. It was very apparent from the get-go that he and Max Hall had a great rapport while hooking up frequently.

It could have been argued during the first week that Hall was ignoring his other options, choosing to go to Collie on almost every route. Hall branched out and became a better quarterback because of it.

Collie unfortunately got hurt in the first scrimmage and sat out contact drills for the rest of spring. What Collie did do was quickly do away with any mention of a possible redshirt. Collie simply established himself as a prime option, if not the number one option altogether on the outside.

Collie indeed has that swagger back and is confident that he'll not only match, but improve upon, his true-freshman performance. After seeing him perform this spring with the knowledge that he still isn't all the way back from his mission physically, I wouldn't argue against any assertion put forth by Austin Collie.

4. Running Backs

Not much was resolved or changed in regards to what the pecking order at running back will be this coming fall. Fui Vakapuna will be ready to assume the number one slot in the backfield if he can regain his form. Harvey Unga meanwhile established himself last fall and did nothing to dispel the assumption that he'll be backing up Vakapuna this fall.

Ray Hudson left the program shortly after spring practices ended, as he didn't do much to indicate that he'd be seeing significant playing time this fall. Wayne Latu was solid, but has some work to do in order to bypass Unga on the depth chart.

J.J. DiLuigi will add an interesting mix this fall to the RB corps, but until he does, the running backs simply maintained the status quo throughout spring that they went in with as a group. No surprises here for better or for worse.

3. Battle at field cornerback

Ben Criddle is the starting boundary corner for 2007. He established himself as such with solid play throughout last season. What isn't known is who will replace Justin Robinson on the other side at the other starting corner position.

Kayle Buchanan was the cornerback who got the most reps with the 1s this spring and will be the guy to beat out this fall. Buchanan proved to be the best all-around option at the field corner position this spring, as was expected going in. If Buchanan can remain healthy, odds are he'll remain there throughout the fall.

Brandon Howard and Andre Saulsberry: Both Howard and Saulsberry improved a lot from their performances last fall. Both showed more consistency and more aggressiveness in their coverage and in their run support. Both look to provide solid options on the two-deep roster heading into fall practices.

Scott Johnson is another player who had his moments and made some big plays. Johnson will certainly be in the mix to a larger degree in future years, but looks to be just behind Howard and Saulsberry on the depth chart heading out of spring practices. Of course, we're all very anxious to see what Brandon Bradley can add to the mix this fall.

2. Battle at Tight end

Who will replace Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats as the top two tight ends is of major importance and was certainly one of the lead stories going into spring practices. The race is between three primary players.

Vic So'oto: So'oto got most of the reps with the 1s during spring and had a solid showing. So'oto didn't break through with the dominating performance I thought he would, but none-the-less established himself as a good option to start as the best blocking tight end of the bunch.

Dennis Pitta: Pitta was the tight end who saw the most improvement this spring. Pitta got home from his mission and got to work quickly. Pitta caught more passes than either So'oto or Andrew George this spring with the first and second teams.

Andrew George: Fans who went to the Blue and White game could well assume that George was the best of the three competing for the starting tight end slot. It was without question George's best performance of the spring. George didn't assert himself during practices, but showed in the spring game that he's a good receiving option with a lot of upside.

Simply stated, the battle for tight end hasn't resolved itself and will be battled for again this fall.

1. The battle for starting quarterback

This battle was obviously resolved, with head coach Bronco Mendenhall naming Max Hall as his starting quarterback. Hall competed hard with Cooper and showed best in most practices. Hall was able to move the offense and get them into the endzone during most practice sessions.

Cade Cooper meanwhile sustained a freak leg injury in the spring after receiving a ton of work running the offense this past spring. Cooper would have been a very good insurance option at quarterback, but unfortunately will have to wait a year before he can play again.

Brendan Gaskins immediately saw the door option and seized the opportunity, having a great spring game. Gaskins looked confident and was very efficient in the spring, indicating a promising fall practice as he's set to receive a lot of reps as the assumed backup to Max Hall.

Sam Doman missed the first three weeks due to injury and wasn't able to catch up with the week of reps he was given. Look for Doman to switch positions starting this fall.


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