Dan Hawkins said he liked what he saw from a lot of players this spring. He has had 10 days to reflect on spring ball and he was asked to name a few players who impressed him.
"There are a lot of guys who really improved their play," Hawkins said. "I think Quentin Hildreth had a really good spring. Kyle Cefalo had a really good spring. I thought DaVaughn Thornton did as well. I think Nick Kasa is starting to come into his own a little bit. Jon Major is running around like we thought he would be able to. Obviously Parker Orms.
"I thought a lot of those guys really improved their play and played with a lot more confidence. Obviously experience helps them."
The players Hawkins named are mostly freshmen and sophomores. Hawkins said younger players tend to show more improvement in spring ball.
"Typically between that first and second year you get a little bit more of a jump to be sure," Hawkins said. "But I even thought both the quarterbacks, both Cody and Tyler played better than they have before. So I think it was kind of a cumulative effect across the board."
Hawkins gave no real specific plan for how he plans to handle naming a starting quarterback in fall camp.
"We'll see how it emerges," he said. "We'll just go with it until we feel like we've got a good pulse and see where we're at go from there."
"I think those guys have always been paper thin the whole time, whether it has been that you've favored one guy or the other guy. I think they've both been pretty close."
Hawkins said he began to see wide receiver Toney Clemons improve and emerge toward the end of spring practices.
"Toney is real smart kid. He's a good student and really a good, solid guy," he said. "He's got good energy, good leader. He's a 4.3-type guy, is a very exciting playmaker. He's kind of got the full package. He's not just a fast guy that can make plays. He's a smart guy that does what he's supposed to do in school and he's a good leader, all that other stuff.
"I thought, particularly the last week of spring, he started playing better. I thought he was a little uptight early on just trying to make every play and not relaxing enough. He certainly has the potential."
Hawkins said he is a fan of a new rule concerning taunting that will take effect in 2011. The rule punishes a player for taunting as he goes into the end zone with a spot foul. So if a player is taunting or high-stepping at the 10-yard line, the touchdown will be nullified and the ball would be spotted at the 10.
Some coaches said they are concerned that there is too much subjectivity in the rule and it could be called differently by officials across the country. Hawkins said there is subjectivity in a lot of rules and calls made in games.
Hawkins said there are some factors that lead him to believe his offensive line could be improved in 2010.
"Well, we played basically three sophomores and a freshmen in there last year. And Ryan Miller spent the year before really playing tackle and he played guard," he said. "So I think you're going to see some guys that have got some significant snaps and even a little bit of depth in there."
Hawkins said he hasn't made a decision about who will be hired to fill the director of football operations job formerly held by Robert Tucker, who left the program in the offseason to become a coach at a small college program.