The Big Green hosted its biggest event of the year and in doing so welcomed back nine NFL players who once wore the Big Green M on their helmet. Finally, by the end of the night, it was official, a new member was added to that club, Vinny Curry was drafted into the NFL.
Appalachian Power Park was the setting for a fantastic game thrown by Herd hurler Aaron Blair. Blair, a hard luck pitcher this year who gets very little run support, showed his stuff for 8 incredible innings. Blair was perfect into the fifth, and was tossing a no hitter into the 8th. Then, in the 8th, Southern Miss scored two unearned runs. The runs proved to be the only runs of the game as the Herd lost 2 – 0.
I was able to watch a bit of practice on Friday. The team was in shorts and helmets, so my primary goal was to get a good look at the punters and kickers. I got their early, and kicked back to watch the show. Beautiful weather for kicking, but the wind was actually a bit into the players faces. The punters did not disappoint.
The punters went first, currently Tyler Williams was running with the ones, but Austin Dumas stole the show in my opinion. Dumas is tall with long legs, and just looks like a punter. Early on in camp, he had no consistency. However, Friday, that was not the case. Williams is still more consistent at this time, but Dumas is hot on his heels. This will be a position, that, in my opinion, will not be lost, but one of these two guys will win the job. Neither one of them have moved backwards in camp, only forward, and both punters work hard throughout practice. Like Kase Whitehead did the last four years, they don't just stand around, they are always kicking.
Long snapping appears to be all James Power, unless new recruit Matt Cincotta from Charlotte, North Carolina comes in and pushes him.
Onto the kickers, they also both looked solid. Justin Haig started the session with the ones. The first snap from Power was bad, as holder Trent Martin, could not handle the snap. Haig proceeded to attempt five more kicks, progressively moving backwards from an extra point to a 45 yard attempt. Haig nailed his first three kicks, with very little problem. His fourth kick was from 37 yards, he had plenty of leg but pushed it to the right. His fifth kick from 45 yards was blocked at the line of scrimmage as the trajectory was much too low. Trajectory issues has not been a problem for Haig this spring, up to that point.
Heading into the final week, I felt that Williams at Punter, and Haig at place kicker were pretty solid in their number one spots. However, after watching Dumas earlier, and then watching Martin kick field goals, I really believe Dumas and Martin could win the jobs. They are both tall, athletic, and have long explosive legs.
Martin took the field with the twos. He kicked the same five kicks, and drilled them all. His 45 yard kick was dead, solid, perfect. Straight through the uprights with room to spare. What got me the most about Martin was how quick the ball exploded off his foot and got immediate height.
In regards to long snapping on field goals, James Power looked excellent after the first snap. His speed seems to have improved as well. Both holders, Martin and Haig, were flawless.
Chad Pennington attended the first part of practice, and wondered around the field talking to the coaches, and some players before retiring to the corner to talk to Athletic Director, Mike Hamrick.
The evening concluded with the two premier events. The Big Green Dinner was a big success, all reports are that the event was well run and the players were great. I will post a list of some of the quotes from a media release of the event, on the message board shortly.
Then the night cap. With the 59th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Bryant Westbrook announced that Vinny Curry had been selected by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Congratulations Vinny, and good luck.
Stay tuned later today as I update game two of the Baseball series versus USM, and the Green and White Game.
Practice, Vinny, Etc:
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