Two-year starting left tackle Cameron Goldberg has been suspended
for unspecified violations of team rules. While the senior was not
permitted to participate in the Blue Devils’ spring game, he will be
given a chance to earn his way back on to the squad before practice
resumes in August.
Weight Watchers … David Cutcliffe’s biggest impact in Durham so
far has been on the players’ waist lines. The first-year coach
challenged the Blue Devils to get in better shape, and they’ve responded
by collectively shedding over 400 pounds since Jan. 10. Not only does
Cutcliffe believe his kids will be a little lighter on their feet, but
they’ll also be less likely to be gassed late in games.
Cutcliffe’s Quarterback … Although a new coaching staff often
results in a lot of new jobs that are won and lost, incumbent QB
Thaddeus Lewis used the spring to tighten his hold on the top spot.
He impressed Cutcliffe with his retention of a more up-tempo, pro-style
offense, as well as his accuracy and protection of the ball.
Good Thing They
Run the Option
… In a growing
trend, the Jackets keep losing receivers to a variety of different
reasons. Greg Smith, Tech’s top returning receiver, injured his
collarbone in April and could be lost for a period of time. Stating
he’d lost his passion for football, No. 3 receiver James Johnson
unexpectedly quit the team after the first week of spring. Add in the
transfers of TE Colin Peek and WR D.J. Donley, and even the run-oriented
Tech attack is going to be shorthanded at receiver.
Edge to Nesbitt … In the competition to be Paul Johnson’ first
quarterback in Atlanta, sophomore Josh Nesbitt has taken a slight
lead over senior Calvin Booker, who has struggled noticeably.
While both players have the athletic ability to run the newly-installed
option, Nesbitt has been a little more explosive on the ground and more
consistent through the air.
Young Linebackers … If the Tech defense is going to succeed this
fall, it’ll need someone to compensate for the graduation of Phillip
Wheeler, last season’s leading tackler. The primary candidate will be
Brad Jefferson, a sophomore who shadowed Wheeler a year ago and
has shown a lot of growth so far. A key recruit from 2007, the coaches
hope he’s ready for the challenge of being the starting middle
linebacker in the fall.
nothing will be made official until August, redshirt freshman QB
Robert Marve had the kind of spring that’s likely to lead to the
starting job. He showed a good command of the offense to go along with
better-than-expected arm strength and deceptive mobility. True freshman
Jacory Harris is still in the hunt, but the job is clearly
Marve’s to lose.
Early Arrivals ... Harris wasn’t the only Cane to leave high
school in time to participate in spring camp. He was joined by LB
Arthur Brown, LB Sean Spence, WR Aldarius Johnson, and
Marcus Forston, who displayed the skills and maturity of players
that are sure to contribute in the fall. Spence, in particular, was a
revelation, making plays all over the field and out performing the more
Rising Star … Of all the peak performers in March, none stood out
more than sophomore DE Allen Bailey, a converted linebacker that
looks poised to combine with Eric Moncur to give the Canes a fierce pass
rusher. A freakishly powerful and explosive athlete at 280 pounds, he
was virtually unblockable throughout the program’s 15 practices.
Although Mike Paulus and Cam Sexton played well in
practice, the quarterback job remains T.J. Yates’ to lose until
further notice. Yates didn’t suit up, but did throw the ball for the
first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in December. If nothing
else, the Tar Heels will be deeper and more experienced at the position
than a year ago.
Hemby Sighting … The Tar Heel defense received a pleasant
surprise when junior CB Jordan Hemby was able to practice this
spring. Out since 2006 with a serious knee injury, he flashed some of
the quickness and speed that made him one of program’s up-and-coming
defensive backs a couple of years ago. Hemby has worked his way into
the two-deep, and won’t be done climbing if he can remain injury-free
through the summer.
Center of Attention … A 12-game starter at left guard a year ago,
junior Aaron Stahl has shifted inside to address the Heels’ need
for a reliable starting center. Although he needs to work out a few
kinks, such as making the shotgun snap, he’ll take a lead over part-time
starter Lowell Dyer heading into summer camp.
… QB Jameel Sewell
may no longer be on the team, but the passing game was able to breathe a
sigh of relief when No. 1 WR Kevin Ogletree showed no ill effects
from last year’s season-ending injury. He caught everything in sight,
providing a safety blanket for Peter Lalich, or whoever takes
over behind center.
Sewell’s Successor … Based on experience and the number of reps
he’s gotten with the first team, Lalich is the probable favorite to be
taking snaps in the opener. Still, Al Groh hasn’t made anything
official, preferring to handicap the race as a dead heat involving
Scott Deke and Marc Verica.
Tight End Situation … The Cavaliers like to use the tight end in
the passing game as much as any other ACC team, but Tom Santi and Jon
Stupar are off to the NFL. Enter veteran John Phillips, a 6-6,
250-pounder that’s bided his time for the past few seasons, and looks
ready to become the next Virginia tight end to catch the attention of
… The situation at
running back has plummeted from bad to worse since the end of the
season. First, leading rusher Branden Ore was dismissed from the team.
Then, leading likely successor Kenny Lewis injured his shoulder
and is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 months. And finally, Jahre
Cheeseman, who was enjoying a breakout spring, broke his fibula and
may not be ready for the start of the season.
Quarterback Shuffle … The Hokies remain undecided whether Sean
Glennon, Tyrod Taylor or both will play quarterback this
season. Both played well in the spring, forcing the staff to evaluate
the situation and the film over the next couple of months. Don’t rule
out Taylor redshirting if Glennon is the clear-cut winner in the
Macho Man … Tech’s top cornerback, Macho Harris, spent
half of the spring catching passes on offense, a testament to his
versatility and the Hokies’ problems at the skill positions. He’ll have
a chance to channel former Hokie defensive back DeAngelo Hall, who also
had an impact on offense in 2003, catching seven passes for 86 yards and
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