"Things are going real well," said ISU's head coach. "The reports are real good coming out of surgery. The things they operated on yesterday came out as either benign or dead issue. It was not cancerous, so the news was fantastic. He had incisions in his neck and chest. They cut him wide open down the front of him to get to an area around his pelvis to remove some tissue, so he's real sore right now. But he's ecstatic, as we are, that there was no more cancer."
The Cyclone coaching staff, which has undergone some minor changes in the interim, also got great news regarding Fitch's return to work.
"We think he's got a real good chance to be back with us next week, at least in the office and then we'll gradually work him out on the field when he gets strong enough," McCarney said.
On the field Tuesday, JUCO addition Terrance Highsmith got some work at both wide receiver and quarterback. Fellow two-year transfer Fabian Dodd remained on offense, and apparently has found a home at left guard. Freshman signee Brandon Gunn, who signed on as a running back out of Omaha (Neb.) Central, saw his first action in the defensive backfield.
McCarney said he was encouraged by what he saw from all three.
"We took another separate half-hour today just to work with the newcomers in order to install, teach, rep, and get a better look at evaluating those kids," he said. "We just took a half-hour to look at some guys on the other side of the ball, or at a new position.
"We looked at Terrance Highsmith at quarterback and guys like Brandon Gunn at defensive back. We have put (Dodd) in the offensive line and left him alone. I like that newcomer class, I really do."
For now, it appears Highsmith has made enough of an impression to earn more action at both positions.
"We'll continue to evaluate, because you just can't make a decision on one practice in shorts," McCarney said. "We'll continue to look at Terrance at both wide receiver and quarterback. He's got a lot of athleticism and a good arm. We knew coming in that we wanted to take a look at him at both. We're not going to leave him at both positions forever, but we're going to continue evaluating him."
A few different issues have made Dodd more of a factor on the offensive line than those outside the program expected.
"(We like the depth on the defensive line) and also know we're a little unsettled at one of those offensive line positions," McCarney said. "We're trying to find the best player we can. From watching him on junior-college tape, I thought he might be able to play offensive guard, and so did Barney Cotton. We're going to take a look at him there. It's so early to evaluate a lineman without any pads on, but we think he's got a chance."
The Cyclones continue preseason practice Wednesday in half-pack, with some early time spent exclusively with newcomers. Their first day in full pads is Friday.
"We're going to continue to install and keep throwing as much as we can at these kids," McCarney said. "We'll run as many fundamental, group, and individual drills as we can. We'll run some 7-on-7 and team. Every day we're trying to install and improve every phase of our kicking game, so that we can go from really disappointing and poor at times last year to being a strength for us this year."