Day three of practice had the Lobos in shorts, helmets, and shoulder pads, so there was plenty of contact all around. It was another beautiful evening that was perfect for football. I got to chat with the Cooks who are preparing to travel to Minnesota to see Ryan, so we wish them a fun and safe trip.
#88 Daryl Jones
I still find myself drawn to the receivers because they are fun to watch, but I decided to look at a group that has a lot of question marks surrounding it going into the 2006 campaign; the defensive line. After losing Marcus Parker, Evroy Thompson, and Adam Garday, the D-line is short on experience. #41 Michael Touhy (6'2"-250), a junior, is the most experienced of the bunch, gaining game experience at line and linebacker over the last two years. In the 2005 season the staff tried to convert Michael from defensive end to linebacker. Mikes production slid while trying to learn the linebacker position. That coupled with injuries to the D-line led to him being placed back at the end position. This is where he is at his best. Termed "undersized´ for his position, mike plays much bigger than his 250 lb frame. In practice he is looking stronger and quicker than ever, and will have an impact on how well this unit will do. Mike has developed into a leader and is poised to lead this young group of linemen into a very productive season.
The two other linemen who are getting the starting nod are #57 Stephen Hutchison (6'3"-250) and #55 Tyler Donaldson (6'4"-240). Stephen is a junior who has gotten into the rotation over the last two years and is now ready to step into a starting role. Tyler is a JC transfer from New Mexico Military Institute, by way of Georgia. He benefited from a year of red-shirting and is eager to anchor this line at the nose guard position. These guys are not along the lines of the coveted 6'4"-300 lb defensive lineman that everyone is looking for, but do not let their sizes fool you, these guys are tough. If they can't beat you with their strength they will with their quickness. In practice these guys are doing a great job of getting up field, disrupting the quarterback (can't touch the QB in practice), and stopping the run.
#90 Greyson Wieczorek
There are several younger players looking to break into the rotation; and there could be three to five of them. If anyone has been out to practice and watched the D-line they will notice the play of local standout, red-shirt freshman #62 Philip Harrison (6'4"-260). Philip demonstrated last year that he had all of the tools to play as a true freshman. Rocky likes to red-shirt them all, so Philip spent a year getting acclimated to collage life and the D-1 pace. Now, Philip is ready to bust out. He is looking poised to break into the rotation, and do not be surprised if he gets the starting nod before the season is through.
#76 Zayn Bin-Bilal
There is a pair of players that have the potential to grow into mean and nasty football players: #93 Kevin Balogun (6'4"-260), and #92 Wesley Beck (6'0"-265). Both are sophomores and are still learning, but both are big and have the potential to be great up front. They are working hard and will get some playing time in this year.
Others that will get a shot at getting into the rotation are: #67 David Dorcey (6'4"-263), #91 James (Chowda) Crowder (5'11"-280), #51 Ryan Boyd (6'3"-265). # 37 Luke Higgins (6'3"-230), and #60 Billy Brittain (6'1"-248). By no means does this list indicate an order of talent. Anyone on this list can rise up and have a significant impact this year.
Some of the question marks are still there, but the Lobos have a lot to work with. What we lack in experience, we can make up for in talent, as all of these guys have it. I was definitely worried about this position going into this fall, but after seeing the combination of height, size (and potential for growth), and fight, I think that the D-line could emerge as the surprise of 2006.The future of this position looks to remain solid with the addition of true freshmen #53 Nose Tackle, Kendall Briscoe (6'2"275); #61 Nose Tackle, Vincent Federico (6'4"-280); and #70 Defensive End, Terel Anyaibe (6'1"-230).
#61 Vincent Federico
Offensive Player of the Day
#8 Martelius Epps (5'10"-190) out of Daingerfield TX. Martelius continues to impress this writer at how improved he is at the tailback. He is hitting the hole faster and harder than ever. What is uprising about him is not only does have that Quincy Wright break away speed, but he also is a very strong runner. If he breaks it off around the end, he is gone!
(Editor's Note: "Tay" we really miss the 'fro man! You're looking good with the high and tight cut, but Red Menace fans have a special place in our Lobo hearts for 'fros!)
Defensive Player of the Day
#38 Major Mosley (6'3"-220). Major is turning into a force at that position. What is nice to see is that he is starting to recognize and anticipate what the offense is doing, which means it is starting to come together in his head. He had several plays last night where he stopped the back or receiver for a big loss.
#30 Ian Clark (6'0"-200). Ian is quickly becoming a stud at the corner. He has a chance to become a four-year starter at that position, which would be nice for the program. He has the right combination of size, strength, and speed to be an all league player, if he is willing to put in the work. I think we will see great things from this Highland grad soon. Congratulations Ian!
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