Spring Game Movers & Shakers

Several players caught our eye as spring practice came to a close on Saturday in Death Valley. Wide receiver Gerald McCloud and defensive end Charles Bennett headline our initial list of movers and shakers!

WR Gerald McCloud
Redshirt sophomore Gerald McCloud had an outstanding spring, especially when you look at his improvement over the course of his last two scrimmages.

McCloud brought in 3 receptions for 74 yards Saturday in Death Valley. One of those catches was of the "over-the-shoulder" variety, deep down the field before taking a vicious hit from Tavaghn Monts.

He also added 3 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown in the second scrimmage of the year the week before.

"He's made some big plays for us," said Tommy Bowden of McCloud. "He's improved a lot for us the last few weeks."

McCloud was a rover last year, getting in on only a handful of plays during the regular season, but his transition to wide receiver appears to be paying off in a big way.

Charles Bennett was also named the Most Improved Defensive Lineman of Spring Practice on Saturday.
DE Charles Bennett
If you get the opportunity to watch a reply of Saturday's Orange & White game, you'll see defensive end Charles Bennett in the offensive backfield all day long.

Overall, he finished the day second on the team in tackles with 6, first in passes batted down with 3, and tied for first in sacks with 2.

Bennett is now close to 250 pounds and appears to be on the verge of claiming a starting spot this fall. Despite the fact that he's got a guy like Vontrell Jamison in front of him, Bennett has consistently outperformed his counterparts throughout spring practice.

"Charles Bennett has moved back to the first team," said Bowden. "He's played really good. Him and Mo Fountain are our two best ends right now."

DT Cory Groover
Cory Groover was expected to come in and contribute to the defensive line right away this spring, and for the most part he has. His development however, has been somewhat hampered by the fact that he's never played in the interior before.

While adjusting to that new role, he's also learning that he must "play within himself" instead of trying to do much at one time.

"He's one of those players that you wish you just one more week of spring practice," said Coach Blackwell. "You can see the light starting to come on and he's starting to understand exactly what's being asked of him."

Groover improved tremendously over the course of the last 4 or 5 practices, and he could be in a position to start by the midway point of the season.

WR Airese Currie
While you could easily make the case that Chansi Stuckey has been the one grabbing all the headlines this spring, Airese Currie still has the most potential of any wide receiver on the team.

Currie caught the longest pass of the afternoon on Saturday (51 yards) and had another 60+ yard touchdown called back on a sack.

"Charlie just put the ball right on the money, just like he's done all spring long," said Currie after Saturday's scrimmage. "The defense played well today, but it was nice to get that one, and then we had the other one called back there at the last second."

Despite that pass not going down in stat book, he still finished the day with 3 receptions for a very impressive 85 yards.

Of course, Currie's health this fall will be of primary importance, simply because he's a player that has to be accounted for at all times by an opposing defense.

Last season, he was the top receiver on the team until a nagging ankle injury suffered against Maryland limited his effectiveness towards the end of the season.

"I've completely recovered from that injury," said Currie. "I'm just looking to improve on what I did last year, and hopefully continue stay healthy."

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