SPRING FB: Thursday Practice Report

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – While it was snow that sent the Hoosiers indoors Tuesday, it was soggy fields that had Indiana back in the Mellencamp Pavilion Thursday for the team's second practice session of the spring season. HooseirNation.com was there, and has the latest on position switches, position battles and much more…

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – While it was snow that sent the Hoosiers indoors Tuesday, it was soggy fields that had Indiana back in the Mellencamp Pavilion Thursday for the team's second practice session of the spring season. HooseirNation.com was there, and has the latest on position switches, position battles and much more…

One of the biggest changes from spring practice this season and a year ago is a matter of numbers. Indiana has 95 players on the roster this spring compared to just 68 a year ago. Instead of having to scramble to find enough players to form a two-deep, the coaching staff has plenty of players to go through both team and individual drills.

With the anticipated arrival of the 20 members 2006 recruiting class in the fall, that makes the spring season especially important for the walk-ons on the roster. Indiana will have to cut down to 105 for fall camp, meaning approximately 10 players on the current roster won't be invited back as part of the group of 105.

One of the most closely watched battles – for the second straight season – is at quarterback where junior Blake Powers, senior Graeme McFarland, and redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis all figure to get a long look from the coaching staff this spring. All three were solid during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, although no one was able to come up with a completion for a big gainer downfield. All three showed strong arms, though, and were solid on the underneath routes.

Statistically, during 7-on-7 drills I unofficially had Powers going 4-for-11, McFarland 5-for-10, and Lewis 6-for-11. Powers had a nice throw down the sideline to James Hardy, who out-maneuvered a second-string cornerback for the ball.

Other news and notes from Thursday…

- One player who is noticeably bigger from the fall is Kyle Thomas, whose up to 292 pounds. The 6'4" Thomas, who has been working with the No. 1 offensive line at left tackle, has gained 30 pounds from the fall. Offensive line Coach Bobby Johnson is expecting big things from both Thomas and right tackle Chauncey Incarnato this fall, saying that he's got his two most athletic offensive linemen at the two tackle spots. Johnson was obviously pleased to see Thomas put on the weight during the off-season, saying after practice that he monitored Thomas' weight gain "as closely as the NCAA rules will permit me to."

On Thursday, the No. 1 offensive line featured Thomas at left tackle, Scott Anderson at left guard, Justin Frye at center, Johnathan Sandbert at right guard and Incarnato at right tackle.

- sticking with the offensive line, another new face up front is Kenny Love, a 6-2, 290-pounder from Pennington, N.J. Love is getting a look at left guard and worked with the No. 2 offensive line Thursday. He is expected to stay there throughout spring practice.

- three players are out for the spring due to off-season knee injuries – safety Troy Grosfield, Tim Bugg and Ben Wyss. All three should be fully recovered by the time fall camp opens in August.

- two other position switches are: Brian Faires, a 6'3", 257-pounder who has moved back to defensive end after switching to tight end a year ago; and Josh Bailey, a 6'1", 208-pounder who has moved from cornerback to outside linebacker.

- Despite the move of Marcus Thigpen to running back, wide receiver remains one of the deepest positions on the roster. In the early going the "A" receivers include James Hardy, Jahkeen Gilmore, Brandon Walker-Roby and Nick Polk. The "B" unit on Thursday included James Bailey, Andrew Means, Ryan Skelton and Chris Banks.

Another wideout to keep an eye on is freshman Terrance Turner. A greyshirt a year ago, Turner enrolled in January and is every bit of the 6'3", 200 pounds that he's listed at. Physically he has a similar look to Means, a 6'0", 209-pounder who is competing in both baseball and football this spring.

- a couple of incoming recruits have been sighted at practice in recent days. Bloomington (Ind.) South quarterback Ben Chappell has been in attendance at both practices this week, while Hamilton Heights offensive lineman Cody Faulkner was at the Mellencamp Pavilion Tuesday.

- while it's still very early in spring ball, the pecking order at running back appears to be Thigpen No. 1, Demetrius McCray No. 2 and Bryan Payton No. 3. During 11-on-11 work the staff ran at least one play with both Thigpen and McCray in the backfield together.

- defensively, the No. 1 defensive front included Kenny Kendal and Charlie Emerson at the defensive end spots with Joe Kremer and Greg Brown at defensive tackle. They figure to get pushed by a young but talented No. 2 unit that four redshirt freshmen Thursday – Neal Jones and Jammie Kirlew and defensive end, and Todd Newman and Emile Bass at defensive tackle.

Editor's Note: HoosierNation.com will have features on Chauncey Incarnato and Kyle Thomas in the next day or two. Be sure to visit HoosierNation.com for the best coverage of IU spring football!

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