Todd Berry, Quarterbacks
QB Kirby Freeman has been doing very well this fall as he enteres his sophomore season. Freeman has been especially good at throwing the ball particularly on the run. Berry said: "He's crazy accurate when he's on the run, and I've never seen a quarterback that has the type of accuracy that he has whenever he moves. He's just incredibly accurate." Freeman, who has been doing well adapting to the heat, will be ready to play whenever his number is called on.
Rich Olson, Running Backs
Freshmen RBs Javarris James and Kylan Robinson are taking full advantage of their reps with the first unit with Charlie Jones (hamstring) and Derron Thomas (groin and hip flexor) are still bothered with injuries. Both players have been catching the ball well out of the backfield, which is important in this new offense. James appears to be ahead of Robinson in regards to experience and will fit into the equation some how. Olson said: "[Javarris] has been running hard. He has really good vision and acceleration. He's picked up the offense fairly well." James, who has been a bit banged up with a sore shoulder, is expected to contribute this season. His pass protection continues to improve as well as his run reads.
Marques Mosely, Wide Receivers
Coach Mosely has high expectations for WR Ryan Moore. "I want Ryan to be a first-team All-American," Mosely said. "No less. If he is not getting that, then he hasn't done his job. Ryan Moore can do it. He has the potential to do it and everyone in the world knows he can do it." Prior to his shoulder injury, Moore was a coach on the field for the younger players especially considering he is going to miss the first two games due to a suspension. Now, he has no choice but to be helping out as a coach as he watches from the sideline. Mosely added: "Ryan is hungry. I don't feel that I am going to have an issue with Ryan."
Joe Pannunzio, Tight Ends
The most unsung player on the team is TE Chris Zellner according to Pannunzio. Zellner, 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, can be a tight end or a fullback who can be used in mutiple formations. Pannunzio said: "He is the guy that when it is all said and done and we are successful, he'll be the guy that nobody really talks about and he'll be the guy that kind of makes it happen. He'll be the guy that greases all of the wheels and makes this thing go." Zellner, who is wearing cast due to a broken hand, is having a tough time catching the ball in practice. A timetable is unknown at this time, but he is still able to practice and make blocks.
Mario Cristobal, Offensive Line
Coach Cristobal has been very high on OL A.J. Trump this fall. Trump, who is currently out with a sprained ankle, is a redshirt freshman who is competing for playing time with juniors Andrew Bain and Derrick Morse. Cristobal wants to have a better rotation setup so guys don't get as tired. It is important for the backups to step up and Trump was well on his way. Trump also a center and projects there as a starter in '07 after Anthony Wollschlager leaves. Cristobal pointed out that Trump returned a kickoff for a touchdown in high school, which jumped out on film. Cristobal said: "[Trump] is extremely smart and extremely smart. He is going to fight through pain and for a young guy he has some leadership qualities in him."
John Palermo, Defensive Line
Coach Palermo is planning on using a 3-tackle and 3-end rotation with the defensive line. That means DTs Kareem Brown, Bryan Pata, and Teraz McCray will rotate as well as DEs Baraka Atkins, Calais Campbell, and Eric Moncur. Moncur is a guy that will have to play both end positions, which is something he has already done in his career thus far. DE Courtney Harris, who is in his second year at UM, is a guy that is steadily improving and is battling Moncur for that third spot. Pata, who moved to DT before fall practices, is looking natural with the transition and has a great attitude. Said Palermo: "[Pata] has been just phenomenal to work with right now."
Randy Shannon, Linebackers
WLB Jon Beason is a guy expected to have a breakout season in 2006 after recording 66 tackles last year and 44 solo tackles—good for fourth on the team. Beason has emerged as the leader of the group and one of the leaders on the team. Shannon is not putting too many expectations on Beason's junior year. "You don't expect him to do above and beyond the call of duty," Shannon said. "A lot of people will, but I won't. If he makes some plays, he is going to make plays. If he don't and as long as he is doing his job, nobody is worried about it." MLB Darryl Sharpton would start if the game was tonight and is doing well according to Shannon.
Tim Walton, Defensive Backs
While CBs Glenn Sharpe and Randy Phillips are expected to start, Bruce Johnson is starting to pick it up. Walton said: "He is startng to do much better and is starting to focus more and pay attention to detail." Johnson has all of the skills and talent needed to play cornerback, but will need to focus on the little things in order to be an effective player. Johnson is also a guy who is being used in the return game and likes the role as a returner.
Christopher Stock can be reached at email@example.com
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