Spartans Hit It Running In Opening Practice

The San Jose State football team held its first practice for the upcoming 2009 season on Saturday, Aug 8th. As a veteran squad, the players wanted to jump right into the first session at full speed. That's exactly how it played out.

Senior linebacker Travis Jones said that the San Jose State players wanted to, "try and hit it running," as soon as fall camp opened for the upcoming 2009 season. That's exactly what the players and coaches did. At the sound of the horn, which signified the start of the first practice session, a large group of players burst onto the practice field next to the Koret Athletics Training Center, with yells in their throats and obvious excitement in their hearts. At least two-thirds of their teammates were already on the practice field ahead of them, eagerly stretching and warming up. A better than usual turnout of players during the summer's offseason workouts helped the Spartans get off to a fast start. "That why we're here during the summer" said Jones. "That way we don't have to come here and start all over". According to Jones "a big part of it is (having) returning players and veterans, and knowing what to do."

Throughout the 2-½ hour practice on Saturday, the Spartans players and coaches were continuously on the go, quickly moving from drill to drill, station to station. It seemed like anything but a first practice session. The players were initially split up by positions, but came together several times throughout the day to match offense against defense. No pads were allowed to be worn, (that comes with the fifth practice) but the action was intense and, in at least one case, a bit too physical. Coach Tomey was visibly upset when QB Jordan LaSecla struck his throwing hand on a rushing defender that had applied a bit too much pressure on the black jersey wearing quarterback. No harm done, as LaSecla took the next snap.

Seven quarterbacks are on the current roster. Returning starter Kyle Reed looked the sharpest of the group. He and LaSecla took the bulk of the snaps with the offense. LaSecla hooked up with wide receiver Josh Harrison of a beautiful 40 yard pass completion. Also practicing were returning QB's Myles Eden and Chad Bozzo; as well as three freshmen, Dasman Stewart from Oxnard, Calif. and walk-ons Jason Kafka from Chicago, Ill and local product Cory Murphy from Wilcox High School. All of the incoming scholarship players were on hand, 14 freshmen and three junior college transfer players. Joining the squad for the first time are seven new walk-on players, (five freshmen and two JC players).

Defensively it appears the coaches will go with sophomores Peyton Thompson and Alex Germany as the starting cornerbacks. Junior Devin Newsome practiced with the first unit at free safety. Depending on the situation, Tuike Tuipalotu joined the first team as well. The first team linebackers are Justin Cole and Travis Jones, with Duke Ihenacho at the rover position. The front four consists of Carl Ihenacho and Mohammed Marah at the ends, with Adonis Davis and Kalvin Cressel in the middle. Justin Cole made a spectacular diving interception which had deflected off of wide receiver Marquis Avery during a red zone drill.

Defensive backs coach Keith Burns spent a lot of time with true freshman Ronnie Yell during the red zone drills. Yell, playing cornerback, made some very good plays throughout the practice. He also spent some time as a punt returner along side sophomore Tanner Burns. Another true freshman cornerback that made a nice play in the red zone was Chris Hill from Carson (CA). Coach Burns was very animated with the defense, urging them to practice at full speed and to remain focused.

As a result of the pectoral injury to offensive tackle Jon Moreno, freshman Pierce Burton from Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, Calif., was moved from defensive tackle to offense. Coach Tomey stated that the move not only filled an opening, but that it also gave Burton a better chance for playing time. Burton, at 6-foot-6 and 250-pounds looks to be in very good physical shape. Offensive line coach Steve Morton spend some time with Burton, working on his hands technique. Moreno's starting spot on the offensive line will be filled by sophomore Andres Vargas. Tomey said that the coaches had Moreno and Vargas rated about the same.

The Spartans will have two new placekickers the season. Tyler Cope, a transfer from the University of Colorado, grabbed the number one spot with a strong showing in the spring. Joining him on the roster is freshman Harrison Waid from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. Like Cope, Waid appears to have a very strong and accurate leg. He was easily making kicks of 40 yards.

At the sound of the final horn, signaling the end of practice, a large cheer went out among the players. No doubt it was due to the intense, fast paced practice coming to a conclusion. But, it was also probably due to the team's excitement at having the beginning of the 2009 season finally underway.

New walk-on players:
  • QB Cory Murphy (6-1, 160, FR) Santa Clara, CA / Wilcox HS
  • S Courtlin Thompson (6-2, 195, FR) Lancaster, CA / Antelope Valley Christian HS
  • LB Nick Grodotzke (6-1 / 225, FR) Agoura Hills, CA / Chaminade Prep
  • RB Matt McCoy (6-0, 250, JR) King City, CA / Gavilin College / King City HS
  • OT Daniel Schroeder (6-3, 285, JR) San Jose, CA / Foothill College / Leland HS
  • WR Chandler Jones (5-9, 165, FR) Los Angeles, CA / Bishop Montgomery HS
  • DT Nick Finney (6-0, 275, FR) Los Angeles, CA / Santa Fe HS

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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at

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