"There was a good vibe," one observer said. "A lot of guys are just happy to get out of the winter routine and get into new drills. [The players] are always anxious for contact."
They are still waiting for serious contact, though, as full-pad practices have yet to happen.
The players reported Friday afternoon and got in a "light" day to start things off, just in shorts, jerseys and helmets in Holuba Hall.
The squad spent the first 15 minutes of Friday's session on some position drill work with their units. The players then took their traditional warm-up jog around the field and stretched as a team. "They just got in some very basic work."
The players then took in some individual and agility drills. Overall, the session lasted about 90 minutes.
The first few practices are used for a general evaluation of the players by the coaches, to see how they have progressed during the winter and also to help the staff to start working toward a final depth chart and work on the structure of the playbook.
Here are some notes of interest from the initial sessions:
- Friday was said to be "a very intense opener" for spring drills. "A lot of guys were getting into it, but you could see they were pushing to do it." Saturday was reportedly a better session for many players who were "quickly into the routine."
- There were some guys who were very vocal in these early sessions. Player who were said to be pushing their units were Derek Moye with the wideouts, Stefen Wisniewski with the offensive line and Devon Still with the defensive line and defense as a whole.
- Chaz Powell is with the cornerbacks currently and "[the coaches] will see if there's a fit" for the position. "He's got the speed and feet; the question if he has the coverage skills — we'll see." Though he dealt with a hernia issue in the winter, he appears to be full go now.
- With starting free safety Drew Astorino skipping spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery, there will be more snaps available for players vying for time in the middle of the secondary. In the first two days of spring ball, 2009 starting free safety Nick Sukay, Andrew Dailey and Cedric Jeffries seemed to be in the mix for the first-team safety jobs. Walk-on Tyler Ahrenhold and redshirt freshmen Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Malcolm Willis appeared to be vying for second-team positions.
Speaking of which, speculation that 2009 starting corner D'Anton Lynn might move to safety this spring has proved unfounded so far. He is still at cornerback. Lynn, Powell, Stephon Morris and Derrick Thomas appear to be the lead candidates for the corner spots.
- There are already raves among observers for running backs Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd. Described as a "beast," the redshirt freshman Dukes has drawn excitement among several observers who are impressed with his combination of size and agility. "Curtis turned a corner this winter," one observer said.
- As for the early enrollee Redd, "he's got 'it.' " an observers said. "He can be a real special back. I can't wait to see him fully suited up. He could level some guys if they don't hit him right."
- The quarterbacks got a good amount of snap drills the first couple of days, both under center and from the shotgun. "These guys are young and so they have had them snapping a lot in the winter, but they're going to get a lot more this spring to make it second nature," an observer explained. Although they are expected to rotate, Kevin Newsome seemed to be working the most with with Wisniewski, Paul Jones was with Matt Stankiewitch and Matt McGloin was getting snaps from Ty Howle in early drills.
- Observers indicate grayshirt linebacker Glenn Carson is at least 225 pounds, saying the roster weight listed for him (200) is inaccurate.
- In terms of the linebackers, "there's another big competition brewing" at the positions with guys like Gerald Hodges, Mike Yancich and Nate Stupar. Mike Mauti will skip spring drills while recovering from an ACL injury. But with the projected starter out, that is giving more reps to the other young 'backers.
- Speaking of linebackers, a lot of eyes are on early enrollees Khairi Fortt and Dakota Royer. "Fortt is really put together," one observer explained. "He's got the build. I am not sure how he plays, but he seems to have the physique and speed." As another observer said, "Fortt got it done (in the weight room) over winter." Royer is also an "intriguing" prospect given his "intensity."
- The Lions are off Sunday. They are scheduled to have another practice Monday, an off day Tuesday and another practiced Wednesday.