Wraps up spring, sets sights on '09

Mead (Spokane) High School standout linebacker PAUL SENESCALL signed with the Vandals in the spring of 2006 as part of then-head coach Nick Holt's third recruiting class. A First Team All-State selection (by AP, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune) and MVP of the Greater Spokane League, the 6-1, 225 pounder now finds himself battling for a starting job at linebacker for the Vandals.

PLAYER PROFILE: Paul Senescall, 6-1, 225, Soph (Spokane, WA)

EDITOR'S NOTE: With projected starter Joseph "JoJo" Dickson and heavy-hitting middle linebacker Treshawn Robinson being held out of contact drills this spring, as well as the loss of starters Justin Allen and Jonathan Faraimo this off-season, a group of up-and-coming youngsters earned significant reps with the first and second defensive units throughout spring drills. This group will be joined in the fall by five linebackers who signed with Idaho in this year's recruiting class, including JC transfer Korey Toomer. But for now the experience gained by Idaho's young linebacker unit will pay dividends in the fall.

Among the group that trained with the top defensive unit this spring is Mead High School standout Paul Senescall, a three sport star who joined the Vandals following a high school career that included three years as a starter and 303 career tackles. His high school football career ended up with him being honored by three organizations across the state of Washington as an All-State selection (AP, the Seattle Times, and the Tacoma News Tribune). He transitioned from the gridiron to the wrestling mat with ease, winning Districts in the Class 4A 215 pound weight classification for the second year in a row, finished second in regionals, and capped off his high school wrestling career with a fourth place finish at the 2006 Mat Classic XVIII - WIAA State Wrestling Campionships.

His role in the Vandal defense has gradually increased the last two seasons, and last year (2008) as a redshirt sophomore the versatile Senescall served as the top backup for several linebacker positions. Against Utah State, Senescall led the Vandals with nine total tackles including seven solo takedowns, all while working as a BACKUP at WILL.

Below he talks about last Friday's Spring Game and the team's progress during spring camp.

About his overall impressions of the Silver and Gold Spring Game: "It was a pretty good day I think, all in all. It was really competitive for the offense and defense, so it made it fun for everybody. And it was a lot of fun watching the guys -- finally, everything kinda being put together in the final scrimmage; so I thought it was pretty exciting."

About his overall impressions about how the team developed during the course of spring drills: "Overall sometimes we'd be up and down. It was kind of a roller coaster there for a little bit. But I think overall everybody came together in the end, and I think it was a good way to end spring. It was pretty fun just watching how people developed from the beginning of spring to the end of spring. I was really excited to see it."

About how short the spring camp is: "Oh, yeah. It's really exciting because you see it for a few months, all Christmas, and then you get into football time again at the beginning of spring and it's really exciting. Everybody's fired up. It's just so short you can't really do too much, but we had a good spring, I think, all in all. We learned a lot, a lot of young guys developed a lot, and that was really good for us."

About the format for the spring finale, which included drills in addition to a modified scrimmage: "We were kinda banged up on defense. A lot of our defensive linemen are kinda banged up. So we wanted to throw some other things in to get some of the D-linemen some rest so they didn't have to go two to three series in a row. We got to keep them fresh; so it kept everybody healthy. I think it was also pretty exciting for a lot of the fans to watch us do a little bit of different stuff; I think that was one of the reasons to mix it up. But another reason was just because we were so banged up towards the end, and it was just the best way to do things."

About how the team got the momentum going this spring, and how to keep it going during the summer and into the fall: "I think it's because people are finally starting to buy in [to the system] and believe. We're all together as one [during the summer] and we do a lot of stuff. I think that's probably the big thing, because people are just committed to each other. Coach Akey always talks about commitment levels and stuff like that; so I think a lot of people are finally starting to believe in, and count on, people. One of the things he always talks about is ‘Count on me,' in everything -- in class, in football, at practice, and lifting. So I think a lot of the guys are finally starting to buy in on that; so it's really exciting to see."

About what the team will focus on between now and the season opener: "We're going to have hopefully the whole team -- the majority of the team will be here all summer lifting and training. We do seven-on-seven, and we're going to be doing a lot of stuff; film study as a defensive unit and an offensive unit. I think the summer time is really good for a lot of us. We become really close to the team, and that's the big thing -- unity."

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