As the airhorn blew at 3:30 p.m. today, the Gophers began practice on the first day of season. The opening practice of the season was organized, fast-paced and full of vigor. Coach Tim Brewster walked around the various fields with a watchful eye as his coordinators put the Gophers through their first drills of the season.
One area for optimism was to see Ra'Shede Hageman taking snaps with the first team defense at defensive end. Hageman, a converted tight end from Minneapolis Washburn High School, looked like he belonged at his strongside end spot. At 6-foot-6, 294 pounds, Hageman has great size for the position. Brewster reported at his press conference that Hageman has made great strides in the weight room, bench pressing over 400 pounds. The redshirt freshman looks to have a bright future at defensive end.
At practice, Kim Royston was spotted participating in some light drills that did not stress his leg too much. Earlier this spring, Royston broke his leg during practice and has been on the road to recovery ever since. To see Royston able to be part of practice, even in a small way, is an encouraging sign for the senior safety.
Another player who looked like he had spent his summer hitting the weights is third-string freshman quarterback, Moses Alipate. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Alipate looks to have gained some solid weight this offseason. The redshirt freshman had some good reps in the early passing drills today. Alipate is showing great promise as young player who will definitely contribute in the future.
Freshman Devon Wright arrived late today and missed the morning practice but was on the field with the returning players in the afternoon. Wright practiced taking handoffs and working on ball security under the watchful eye of running back coach Thomas Hammock.
He received a couple of reps running the ball and showed good burst and vision on one play cutting off-tackle for a large run. Wright will need to add weight and strength to be able to handle the punishment dished out by Big Ten defenses.
Prior to practice official starting, the wide receiver core was already at work. While the dynamic of the group of receivers has changed with the loss of star Eric Decker, the wideouts looked confident and ready to work on Friday. Before practice, the receivers were working hard on their blocking skills. At yesterday's press conference with Coach Brewster, the coach stressed that he did not expect his receivers to catch the ball. He expects them to be the best group of blocking receivers in the conference.
Goldensports.net will be attending more football practices so watch for more practice reports.
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