Spring Improvement

Cardinal Authority takes a look at six players that made significant strides during spring practice and are expected to fill key roles in 2013.

The stars of the 2013 Cardinals football team shined as expected during the annual Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was near flawless, receivers DeVante Parker and Damian Copeland made sensational catches, Dominique Brown was explosive in his runs and Lorenzo Mauldin was a beast along the defensive front.

As head coach Charlie Strong has stressed throughout the spring, the need to improve the team's depth was a priority. Here's a look at six Cardinals that have emerged as player's to watch when fall camp begins in late summer.

RB Brandon Radcliff

The redshirt freshman from Miami (Fla.) Columbus surprised the 33,000 that attended the Spring Game. With Senorise Perry in rehab, Radcliff (5'9, 220) benefited from the additional reps this spring and it was evident on Saturday when he rushed for 59 yards on just 5 carries. The former three-star back displayed his elusiveness and a great burst through the holes.

FB Jalen Harrington

A former three-star safety, Jalen Harrington (6'2, 230) moved to the offensive side of the ball late in 2012 and has flourished at his new fullback position since. The Louisville Fern Creek product was a notable contributor in the Cardinals win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl, including a 16-yard first quarter reception. Harrington didn't record a reception in the Spring Game, but his blocking was excellent.

"If he continues to progress, he's going to be a great player," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said on Saturday. "He's playing very well for us."

WR Robert Clark

The Florida transfer hauled in two passes for 50 yards in the Spring Game. While the junior had a couple drops, he showed great hands and toughness when he pulled in a 39-yard strike from Teddy Bridgewater and received a big hit from safety Gerod Holliman late in the first half. Clark (5'9, 185) spent last season working with the scout team and is expected to bolster the Cardinals already lethal receiving corp.

DT DeAngelo Brown

Brown, a true sophomore, was a key figure during the first quarter of the Spring Game, when the defense limited the offense to just 25 yards on 5 possessions. The Savannah (Ga.) Christian product finished with 4 tackles, including a sack and another tackle for a loss. The 6-foot, 310-pound Brown, who received extra reps this spring due to multiple injuries along the defensive front, appeared in seven games as a true freshman last season, registering 10 tackles.

DL Dominique Dishman

Dishman (6'2, 297) is another member of the Cardinals defensive line that has taken advantage of the extra reps this spring. The redshirt sophomore from Lexington Paul Dunbar was impressive on Saturday, recording a team-high 3 sacks, while also finishing with 5 total tackles.

QB Will Gardner

The competition for the backup quarterback spot will continue into fall camp, but redshirt freshman Will Gardner (6'5, 200) is close to wrapping it up. The Douglas, Georgia product is showing no ill effects from his rehabbed knee and continues to improve. Gardner was 10 of 16 for 85 yards and a touchdown in the Spring Game.

"Will Gardner is a step ahead of everybody else," said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson following the Spring Game. "He'll have to put in cement in camp, but he's got that job."


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