Friday Morning Practice

What a great morning for football. Grey skies, a light breeze, and temperatures barely reaching 70, called for an excellent football feeling morning. With the season now just a shade over two weeks away, anyone at the Joan this morning had to be able to see that the finish line of the offseason was coming very near.

As has been the norm for the camp, practice moved along at a very brisk pace, with very little down time, and very few wasted minutes. At one point late in practice, during team drills the Herd was getting plays off so fast that the players could barely get back to the line. On one play Jermaine Kelson took a pass and gained about 14 yards, losing his shoe in the process. He was putting it on and realized he had to get to the line, so he bounced back with the shoe half on. The next play was a screen to him again, this time he gained five yards, lost his shoe, and bounced back again. Finally, a running play, and he got his shoe back on.

Early on in practice it was chippy. Good hitting, and some talking during the one on one offensive drills led to some quality play, and nice hits.

Andre Booker and Kelvin Grooms were the main guys back for kick returns. Both players are more than capable of taking the ball to the house whenever they touch it.

Devin Arrington continues to show that he has grown as a leader. He didn't partake in contact drills today but was fully dressed and was involved on each play. At one point, walk on linebacker Anthony Wilson politely came up and tapped him on the shoulder to ask a question. Arrington spoke to him for about five minutes walking him through what he needed. Stepping in for Arrington today was Evan McKelvey. McKelvey appears to have settled into his position change without issue.

The starting defense saw very little change. Along the front line the starters were Alex Bazzie and Jeremiah Taylor at defensive end, and Brandon Sparrow and Marues Aiken at defensive tackle. The linebackers were Jermaine Holmes in the middle, flanked by McKelvey and Raheem Waiters. The safeties were Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okorohao, affectionately known as "O." Defensive back is a little different. The three guys vying for the two spots right now are Monterius Lovett, Keith Baxter and Derrick Thomas. For the most part, Baxter was buy himself, while Lovett and Thomas split reps, until Baxter got a little dinged up and Thomas moved over to his spot.

I have not noticed Billy Mitchell in the past week, I assume he is still on the team, he just hasn't jumped out as of yet.

Cortez Carter stepped into the middle linebacker position when Holmes went to the sideline. Deon Meadows saw time at the outside spots.

Raheem Waiters also got some time with his hand on the ground at defensive end. He looked pretty good and very fast coming off the end. When he steps in, D.J. Hunter comes in on defense. The overall team speed on defense is like nothing the Herd has had in quite some time. With so many interchangeable parts, the only things that seem certain are Taylor, Aiken, Okoroha, and LeGrande.

Speaking of Aiken. I expect a huge year from Marques. Aiken put up very solid numbers last season for a defensive tackle. He finished with 39 total tackles, just three behind current Washington Redskin Delvin Johnson. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He had three quarterback hurries, and knocked down two passes. Aiken has long arms, which makes him almost like a defensive end playing inside. He can make tackles, disrupt passing lanes, and get to the quarterback. Aiken should have a big season, which should keep blockers from getting to the second level, thus allowing Holmes and Arrington to have big tackle seasons.

Devon Smith completed his second day of practice. Smith again was relegated to just shorts and a helmet due to NCAA rules.

Finishing up on defense, I did not see Steve Dillon or Jarquez Samuel practicing today. This bumped Joe Massaquoi and Blake Brooks to the second unit at the defensive tackle position.

The offensive starters today were basically the same, minus one position. That position was left tackle. Josh Lovell has manned that spot since the spring, however, Lovell was not at practice today, or at least was not participating. In his spot was big number 56, Toby Bullock, no, not Bullock, another big man though, Grady Kerr. Kerr, listed at 6'3", and 306 pounds played very well. The other starters were the same, Gage Niemeyer at left tackle, Chris Jasperse at center, John Bruhin at right guard, and Garrett Scott at right tackle.

The second until offensive line was, from left to right, Jordan Jeffries, Anthony Spano, Cameron Dees, Alex Schooler and Corey Tenney. Billy Rone is practicing, but I did not see him get too many actual live reps. Dees appears to be the back up center, with Spano moving to guard. I am not sure if that would remain the same if something happened to Jasperse, or not, with Bruhin being a former center as well. Dees is doing very well though at the position, so he may not redshirt.

Stefone Grace is another player that has been impressive. He is deep on the depth chart, with Gator Hoskins, C.J. Crawford and Eric Frohnapfel being ahead of him, but Grace could have an impact in his career.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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