For months now Tiger fans have been gobbling up every bit of recruiting information available, and now the time to talk varsity football is upon us.
There were a total of 47 players present at the first varsity practice with one true freshman (Chris Faulk) helping fill the void at left tackle behind starter Ciron Black. Junior College signee Akiem Hicks was also on hand participating with coach Brick Haley’s defensive line unit and walk-on receiver Jared Joseph was also working with the varsity.
The team practiced in shorts and helmets today under overcast skies and mild conditions with a slew of media members looking on.
There was only one noticeable absence as center T-Bob Hebert was not on hand. Brandon Taylor appeared to be receiving reps at strong safety and corner with the number ones alongside junior free safety Chad Jones. There were no green jerseys aside from the quarterbacks and everyone seemed to have an obvious pep in their step for the first individual drills.
The quarterbacks on hand were Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. The first snap was given to Jefferson, but they switched out frequently with the first and second groups of tight ends, receivers and running backs.
The quarterbacks started out working with the wideouts on simple fade routes where there were only a few badly thrown deep balls, but the throws that did make it to the receivers were all caught in the warm up drill and some excellent throws were made by both quarterbacks.
Jordan Jefferson looked smoother on the roll out plays and both looked good running the option with the running backs out of multiple formations much to offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s liking.
Brandon LaFell was the first to go in the warm-up fade drill followed by Terrance Toliver and Chris Mitchell. One can probably assume that this will be the starting three set of receivers and their were multiple substitutions at the slot including R.J. Jackson and Chris Tolliver followed by walk-on Jarred Joseph. After the coaches get a better look at Reuben Randle this afternoon, one can assume that he will eventually make his way up to varsity and expect to sub in for the X and Z spots or maybe even some slot duty.
Chris Mitchell looked to be the quickest of the receivers naturally but Chris Tolliver was not far behind him. R.J. Jackson ran some really good routes and looks to have really fit into his receiver roll for his senior campaign.
The running backs began practice with the strip drill and the depth was as predicted, Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy and Trindon Holliday…although they did switch up the order in every following drill.
The offensive line participated in a short pull, scoop drill with P.J. Lonergan at center, Lyle Hitt at right guard and Joseph Barksdale at right tackle and they really looked the part for a right “running side” of the football. The left side was anchored by Lonergan at center again, Josh Dworaczyk and big Ciron Black. These guys were impressively quick off the ball as well. Will Blackwell was the second string center.
The tight end position was filled by starter Richard Dickson and second tight end Mitch Joseph followed by Alex Russian. The tight ends looked physical on their blocking drills and Richard Dickson caught some good roll out passes from Lee and Jefferson. Deangelo Peterson was not with the varsity and will hone his newly acquired skills with the freshmen and selected lettermen at 4:15 pm today.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis is as intense as advertised as he would harp on every little mistake made in the simple sled drill and followed by pursuit. He would not go to the next linebacker without the previous one doing the drill exactly to his specifications and one can tell that the linebackers will be prepared and already look more intense than previous years. Ryan Baker looks to have put on some weight and looked very strong while Harry Coleman still looks like he needs to add about ten pounds but was very aggressive on the sled.
The defensive backs started out in the back peddle-cut up drill where they recognize the run and shoot up field. Ron Brooks, Chad Jones and Patrick Peterson really looked the part as they all are very fluid in their motions with Brooks being the quickest by far. The ones in this drill were Chris Hawkins, Chad Jones, Brandon Taylor, and Patrick Peterson with Danny McCray, Ron Brooks, Jai Eugene and Ryan St. Julien working as the twos in that specific drill.
Brick Haley was also very “in your face” to the defensive linemen, making sure that every single step in every rep was done with urgent intensity. The linemen worked on side steps, form tackling and sleds and looked intense during the drills. The ones were Rahim Alem, Charles Alexander, Al Woods/Drake Nevis, and Pep Levingston. Chancy Aghayere, Lavar Edwards, and Akiem Hicks filled in the gaps behind the starters and the whole lot was getting attention from Head Coach Les Miles.
Participants today were:
QB: Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee
RB: Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy, and Trindon Holliday
FB: Richard Dugas
WR: Brandon Lafell, Terrance Toliver, Chris Mitchell, R.J. Jackson, Chris Tolliver and Jarred Joseph
TE: Richard Dickson, Mitch Joseph, and Alex Russian
OL: Ciron Black, Lyle Hitt, P.J. Lonergan, Josh Dworaczyk, Joseph Barksdale, Will Blackwell, Clay Spencer and Alex Hurst
DB: Patrick Peterson, Chad Jones, Jai Eugene, Danny McCray, Brandon Taylor, Chris Hawkins, Ron Brooks and Ryan St. Julien
LB: Jacob Cutrera, Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard, Ryan Baker, Harry Coleman, and Kyle Prater
DL: Rahim Alem, Pep Levingston, Drake Nevis, Al Woods, Chancey Aghayere, Charles Alexander, Lavar Edwards, and Akiem Hicks.
K/P: none on hand
That’s all for now but we’ll have plenty of more coverage throughout the day and night from the first day of fall camp.