Quarterback-The quarterback battle was pretty well settled in the spring, but Dustin Grutza left no doubt that he was the best option after a very productive summer. The anticipated battle for the starting assignment quickly became a battle for the back-up position, which was eventually won by Nick Davila. This staff likes mobile quarterbacks, and they have several.
Running Back-Bradley Glatthaar proved he was under recruited after graduating from Elder High School and has taken the top spot at running back. Bradley is a workhorse in practice. If he is with a trainer, you know he is really hurt and not just dodging a drill or a hot day. Mike Daniels had a superb summer. He is ready to become a game changer. Butler Benton and Greg Moore supply solid depth to the position. The biggest disappointment this summer was the play of Delbert Ferguson. Ferguson looked good in the spring but was a non-factor this summer. Doug Jones returns at fullback after a number of nagging injuries this summer. I think the back-up spot at fullback is still up for grabs after Marcus Waugh's knee injury last week.
Offensive Line-Steve Eastlake is as solid as they get, and veterans Ryan Brown, Matt Webster, and Jeff Reinstatler will have productive seasons. Digger Bujnoch is the one newcomer that has claimed that final starting spot and he has added some needed weight, but I look for 8-10 players to get significant snaps this year. Canfield, Flores, Tobin, Simon, Straub, Bolton and El-Amin are all in the hunt for playing time.
Tight End & Receiver-The Big Four (Poland, Jackson, Ross, and Giddens) are all quality receivers. I think Dominick Goodman has claimed that #5 spot, but Carlos Simpson should see time on the field too. Celek is simply a stud at TE, but Hank Davis will definitely get a push from Connor Barwin for playing time if he can stay healthy.
Defensive Line-Coach Gill thinks this position is deeper than it's been in past seasons, and it's hard to argue. Adam Roberts already has the interest of the pro scouts, and Terrill Byrd has been as advertised. Sophomore Jon Newton is ready to contribute as is Jamie Wimmer. Tony Carvitti and Donald Germany give the Bearcats some situational substitutes, and true freshman Trevor Anderson is in the same class as Byrd. Coaches have even compared Anderson to Trent Cole. Thomas Claggett has made a late push for playing time, but I don‘t think Lamonte Nelms has made the needed physical and mental adjustments to DE yet. The most recent question concerns Anthony Hoke. Will he remain at linebacker or move back to the D-line?
Linebackers-Walk-on Kevin McCullough is the "feel good" story of the summer. He's big, smart and tough. He continued his excellent play in the spring and claimed the middle linebacking job. After McCullough, it's anybody guess. Corey Smith has looked good. He moves well and is a hitter, but he's only 215 pounds. Will he hold up physically at linebacker? Anthony Williams is a converted safety that's even smaller than Smith is. Can these guys stop the run? If not, Jon Carpenter and Leo Morgan spent considerable time with the #1 defense this summer and are two of the strongest players on the defense. Sophomore Angelo Craig is the most gifted player at this position, but he's missed some practices. The wild card is Tyjuan Jones. He very recently rejoined the squad and could become a factor later in the season.
Defensive Backs-The cornerback position opposite Antoine Horton continues to be a revolving door. Summer practices have seen Walter Dudley, John Bowie, Cedric Tolbert, Mike Mickens and Brad Jones all get reps with the #1 defense. Even Marshawn Gilyard was moved from receiver last week to try his hand at cornerback. No one has firmly taken the job, but Bowie and Dudley seem to be leading. I believe this is the position of most concern on the squad. The safety positions have been stable with veterans JaJuan Hall and Dominic Ross at SS and Haruki Nakamura at FS. David Wess continues to learn the position, but he's not a threat to start at this point.
Placekicking-Kevin Lovell is solid with a leg capable of hitting kicks from 50 yards or beyond. He's also an excellent athlete who‘s not afraid to make a tackle.
Punting-I thought Kevin Huber had to come to camp and clearly beat Chet Ervin if Huber was to win the job. I don't think a challenger can "nose out" an experienced veteran. The competition has been very close, but I think Ervin has held off the challenger, at least for now.