Head Coach Dick Tomey is being true to his word regarding having the team practices more physical this spring than in previous years. Despite it being only the fourth practice this spring, and the first gathering in eleven days, the drills and scrimmages between offense and defense were intense.
Tomey spent a good portion of the first hour working with the running backs, specifically on their blocking technique.
Several players, previously injured, or ill, are back and appear to be right on track for strong returns in 2009. Running back Patrick Perry looks very good. Wide receiver Kevin Jurovich appears to be at full size and strength, and fully recovered from his bout with mono. WR Jalal Beachmann is running very well, and appears to be even faster than before his ankle injury. Defensive tackle Justin Willis is back and had a very spirited battle with Ailao Eliapo during the one-on-one face-offs between the D-line and O-line - including the tight ends.
Speaking of TEs; the player wearing No. 8, but not on the official roster that is handed out, is none other than SJSU Men's Basketball player Devonte Thomas. the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Thomas, who was participating in only his second practice (at least since his days at Kennedy High School in Fremont, Calif). Thomas appears to be a work-in-progress, but possesses very strong athletic skills. Junior College transfer Avelino Valencia moves very well for a man his size at 6-foo-5, 250-pounds. Redshirt freshman Ryan Otten was very impressive and should get his share of playing time this season.
It appears that the plan to switch running back Ina Liaina to linebacker may be on hold, as he strictly worked with the offense today. Similarly, Raymond Rodriguez, listed on the roster as both a running back and defensive tackle, spent the day as a defensive lineman.
At this point in time, it appears that the starting O-line consists of center Ronnie Castillo, guards Isaac Leatiota and Ailao Eliapo, tackles John Konye and Fred Koloto, with Terrence Williams at tight end.
New running back Lamon Muldrow brings to mind an old Jethro Tull song, "Thick As A Brick". He is quite simply a stud.
Cornerback Devin Newsome looked strong in pass coverage. Duke Ihenacho is back at safety. His brother Carl suited up but did not participate in any of the contact drills. DT Adonis Davis was not in pads, only jersey and shorts, but he is becoming a strong team leader. At one point, he was shouting at a few players that were not standing up during practice, demanding that they do so.
There were several new faces (walk-ons) that are not listed on the current roster. One such newcomer, who I learned the coaches like, is WR Manu Ngatikaura. A JC transfer from San Jose City College, he caught 32 passes for 512 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Jaguars in 2007. He also ran track at SJCC. He has very good speed, and runs nice routes. He is currently wearing No. 39.
Attending today's practice was Hartnell College Head Coach Matt Collins. He's friends with a couple of the Spartans coaches, and said he was attending to watch some of the drills. It's a good way to pick up coaching tips. Had nice things to say about the program an San Jose State.
A couple of players that were not in attendance today were WR Marquis Avery and RB Cameron Island. Not to worry. A staff member said there were a handful of players that have big exams coming up at the end of this week and they were directed to take care of that order of business.
Mike Morgan is Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org