Depth Providing Competition In Camp

In their first day of two-a-day practices Brian Kelly saw a great push in position battles among several positions. Two spots that really stood out were running back and wide receiver. Here are several notes from Monday's morning practice at Camp Higher Ground.

Make no mistake that Jacob Ramsey is a senior running back looking to be a starter in his final season. But as Brian Kelly has proven since taking over the Bearcats program, no one is safe if they don't come ready to work. On Monday Ramsey saw a giant push being made by Darrin Williams.

"We've got depth, not only at running back, but tight end, wide receiver and linebacker," Brian Kelly said after the morning session. "It's great for a head coach because it's great competition. If Jacob Ramsey doesn't put his pads down and run hard, Darrin Williams will go in there when he has a chance."

While Ramsey seemed at times sluggish Williams made the most of his chances by running hard and staying low. Not only did Williams look to make a push so did Scott Johnson a sophomore running back from Middletown (Ohio).

But running back wasn't the only position to see players working to show their stuff. D.J. Woods saw Marcus Barnett make a push on his position throughout the early session. Several times you could hear coaches push Woods to get up quicker after a hit and get to working while Barnett made several great plays after the catch including a touchdown run making four defenders miss on his way to the endzone. Kelly made no bones about the fact his team is deep and players must bring their A-game each and every day to practice.

"We'll it's a very competitive situation between him (Marcus Barnett) and D.J., Marcus wants to start because it's important to him."

Make no mistake Brian Kelly and his staff is enjoying the level of competition in the early going of camp.

"I think we've got enough receivers, tight ends, running backs. It's still about executing what we want to do. But strength and having enough players is not going to be a concern for us, it's getting our guys to play together as a team."

No one is safe in the early goings of camp. Players have learned if you have a chance to show what you've got there is a chance you'll be able to earn playing time.

Some changes during the day came from players sitting out the session. Evan Davis ran with the one's today as Chris Jurek stayed out of contact. Davis had his good and bad moments but showed why the staff is high on his future as a Bearcat.

With Davis moving up that left the center position to see another move and Craig Parmenter looked to take advantage of his chances. This is the first time the New Jersey native has seen himself in position to really make any kind of push and he did very well when called upon.

While Tony Pike is the clear cut starter for Kelly at quarterback the battle for the number two spot looks to be down between Chazz Anderson and Zach Collars. Both players have seen good and bad during early practice and Kelly knows each brings something different to the table.

Also on Monday the Bearcats did some one-on-one drills with offensive linemen blocking defenders as a running back looked to score. This was a very hard fought drill on both sides of the ball but for the most part it looked like the offense was the one with the advantage.

Ben Guidugli had a great pancake block in this drill and the rest of the tight ends did extremely well overall. Another player who did very well was T.J. Franklin a player we've not really heard much from since coming to campus.

One area the Bearcats have become known for is special teams. While the morning session didn't really see the kicking part of the game worked on it did see the return and coverage teams get work.

Returning kickoffs at this time are Mardy Gilyard along with Scott Johnson. Both players bring a great burst when they get the ball in their hands. The second set of return men are Darrin Williams and Isaiah Pead.

Make no mistake about the detail that is given this part of the game. Mike Elston has worked hard to be one of the top special team's coaches in the country and his attention to detail is seen with each drill. Don't be surprised if the Bearcats return game is better than in any year past.

Monday morning also saw work down with each position working on the finer points. Be it wide receivers working the ladders, running backs going through tires or receivers using a giant pad to working on diving catches out of a jugs machine. No stone was left unturned during the first day at Camp Higher Ground.

Bearcat Insider will return for the morning session on Tuesday.

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