Redshirt freshmen make impact this spring

Each year, a few redshirt freshmen make their presence felt during spring practice and promise to become valuable contributors in the fall. Last spring, wide receiver Harry Douglas made the biggest impact during the spring following a redshirt season. And while the quantity of impact redshirts last spring was relatively miniscule, this spring several redshirt freshmen have made lasting impressions with their play on the field.

Each year, a few redshirt freshmen make their presence felt during spring practice and promise to become valuable contributors in the fall.

Last spring, wide receiver Harry Douglas made the biggest impact during the spring following a redshirt season. And while the quantity of impact redshirts last spring was relatively miniscule, this spring several redshirt freshmen have made lasting impressions with their play on the field.

Making the biggest impact this spring, perhaps, has been 6-6, 220-pound wide receiver Mario Urrutia. Urritia's has enjoyed an outstanding spring practice. He's been a consistent, reliable target, and has proven he can make plays in the ‘red-zone.'

Through the first three scrimmages this spring, Urrutia, a local standout from Fern Creek High, has made 16 receptions for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. In two of the three prior scrimmages, Urrutia topped the century mark for receiving yardage, including last Saturday's 6 catch, 127-yard, three-touchdown performance. During tonight's annual Red-White Spring Game, Urrutia will likely see action on both the first and second team offensive units.

"He's been consistent in three scrimmages," Petrino said last weekend. "He's been mainly working with the two's, so you've got to take that into account. But anytime you ask him to get open and make a catch, he's been doing it. He's a great target, particularly in the red zone. He looks impressive."


Rod Council earned a starting spot
at cornerback this spring.

5-11, 185-pound cornerback Rod Council has also made a positive impact in the secondary this spring, where defensive coordinator Mike Cassity starting drills looking to replace three departed starters.

One thing appears certain in the secondary heading out of spring practice – Council has the starting corner spot opposite William Gay locked down.

Council, fiercely competitive, and equally strong against both the run and pass, made an interception during last Saturday's scrimmage. He'll take snaps with the number one defense tonight, and fans will likely learn that the Charlotte, NC native has no fear on the edge of the Cardinals defense.

"I think he's played well, but he has a long way to go," cornerback coach Joe Whitt said. "He's learning how to play on this level, but he can be a really good corner. He's not afraid to compete, and he's not afraid of anything. That's the great thing about him at corner."

Three other redshirts, 6-3, 235-pound linebacker Johnnie Burns, 6-2, 285-pound defensive tackle Adrian Grady, and 6-3, 245-pound defensive end Maurice Mitchell, have solidified spots on the depth chart this spring.

Burns, Grady, and Mitchell will play with the second team defense against the number one offense tonight. Grady, who has shown an ability to clog up the middle against the run this spring, figures to be an important part of the rotation at defensive tackle next season along with starters Montavious Stanley, and Amobi Okoye.

Besides Urrutia, 6-1, 190-pound running back George Stripling, has made the biggest impact on offense. Playing behind Michael Bush and Kolby Smith, Stripling has been impressive in the Cardinals' three scrimmages this spring, carrying 39 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns.


George Stripling has shown
durability and break-away speed
this spring.

Stripling has shown both durability – he carried a game-high 21 times two weeks ago – and break-away speed – scoring on an exciting 33 yard romp during the first scrimmage - this spring.

"He's a real exciting player for us," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "He's fast, has good vision and makes the cuts well. He's going to be a real good player for us, which is good, because the more he plays the fresher Kolby (Smith) and Michael (Bush) will be."

Eric Wood, a 6-4, 290-pound offensive guard, also enjoyed a solid spring prior to being diagnosed with mononucleosis two weeks ago. Prior to his illness, Wood saw action on both the first and second team line's. He's expected to be full strength when practice resumes in August.


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