Much has been made of the potential impact the crop incoming freshmen skill players might have on the season. Sam McGuffie, in particular, has been the source of a great deal of excitement and lofty expectations. Now that they’re on campus, however, those high school rankings are out the window. They flashed their athleticism in offseason workouts, but the rubber will officially hit the road next week when fall camp starts. That’s when the veterans will truly find out what these youngsters are made of.
“You can't really judge a person (based on) seven-on-seven,” said senior Tim Jamison when asked for his evaluation of the freshmen. “You’ve got to put the pads on. When camp gets here and Sam McGuffie puts the pads on… I mean he is a great kid and everybody is cool… but we will see what we have as soon as they put the pads on. You’ve always got guys who are going to be superstars with no pads. ‘No pad All-Americans.’ We are going to compete hard in training camp and we are going to see that this team is ready.”
When the time to compete under the watchful eyes of the coaches finally rolls around, the playing field will be fairly level for everyone involved. The freshmen will have the same opportunity to earn their way on the field that the veterans do. However, when practice is not in session the youngsters will have to suffer through the annual rights of passage.
“To tell you the truth, we are making all those kids do back flips,” said Mike Massey. “They are all such good athletes, it is kind of funny. We have competitions to see who can do the most flips. That is going to be an interesting battle… as is every position. I think every single one of those guys is going to play. I think it will be nonproductive if you don’t have them all play. Avery (Horn) had a great spring; the kid is quicker than ever. I know there are a lot of expectations with Sam coming in. To tell you the truth, he is a humble kid. He is a humble kid. He is a really hard working kid, and I think with the leaders like Carlos (Brown) being around for a while, those guys are keeping him level headed. I don’t know if they are going to step in and be Mike Hart, but I think a combination of all them is going to be great.”
Brown is certainly one of the x-factors heading into the season after missing the entire spring. He will probably figure prominently into the rotation at running back, and will likely get a look at quarterback as well. Wherever he lines up, Massey believes there is reason to be excited.
“He is quicker than he has ever been,” the senior tight end said of Brown. “I can tell you that much. We are all quicker than we have ever been.”
That same comment was being hurled around all spring long in reference to the play of the projected starter at tailback, Brandon Minor. The Virginia native’s teammates believe he is poised to have a breakout season.
“Brandon Minor did have the best spring ball out of anybody,” Massey said. “He did everything. He was a quarterback, he was a wide receiver, he was a running back… he ran around everybody. I know he stood out. He had some injuries in the offseason but he is healthy now. He has been lifting with Mike Barwis and he is bigger and quicker than ever. He is definitely fits right in with this offense.”