4. Which of last year's redshirts will have a break out spring?
The Bulls had a big class of redshirt freshmen last year with 18 players getting the designation and 16 of them scholarship athletes. The spring is the first time for us to see who has developed, and the first time for them to make a statement for the upcoming season. Many players made strides, but only a handful had break-out springs. The first name that comes up would be Evan Landi who earned daily praise by Coach Leavitt throughout the spring, and proved his worth as a QB, WR, DB, Holder, and will see the field in 2009. B.J. Daniels came in late, but had a great spring and showed why he's the heir apparent. His childhood friend Daniel Bryant also had a good spring as receiver, returner and even at corner, making his case to get on the field. Up front, OT Mark Popek entered as a starter, and never relinquished the role, and did a lot of good things this spring in the hardest position in football. TE Jeff Hawkins who battled a shoulder injury also showed some good things while players like Damien Edwards, Demetris Murray, Josh Garvin, and Jatavious Jackson are all developing on schedule.
On the defensive side of the ball Cory ‘Pork Chop' Grissom continues to be impressive and picked off where he left off last season. In the secondary, John Lejiste was a pleasant surprise, showing great coverage skills and the ability to deliver a big hit, and is already in the mix. Cornerback George Baker showed his blazing speed, but is still has a lot of learning to do in one of the hardest positions in college. Linebacker Mike Lanaris showed a lot of good things but along with Armando Sanchez still have a lot of developing to do as linebackers, but should have meaningful contributions on special teams.
5. With B.J. Daniels missing the beginning of spring, who will earn the back-up quarterback job?
While Daniels was finishing up the basketball season, Evan Landi showed a good arm, ability, grasp of the offense, and made a strong case for back-up quarterback. Even when B.J. joined the team, the battle between the two continued throughout the spring and ended with an exciting duel in the spring game between the two freshmen. Landi was impressive and earned daily accolades, while B.J. showed his elusiveness, being called a ‘magician' by Leavitt. At the conclusion of spring ball, both earned praises from Leavitt who said both could play the position, but with Landi's versatility and the ability to play other positions, B.J. was anointed the No. 2 quarterback for the Bulls heading into the summer.
6. Who will replace the losses of three senior safeties this spring?
The Bulls lost a lot of experience when Carlton Williams, Louis Gachette, and Danny Verpaele graduated and this spring was the audition for who will step up as replacements. Nate Allen is the bona fide starter on one side, and is the only player with starter experience at the position. Redshirt sophomore Jerrell young has been waiting for his opportunity and didn't disappoint this spring by showcasing his talents and showing leadership in the secondary. Redshirt John Lejiste made the biggest jump, showing very good coverage skills and the ability to deliver a big hit, and will be in the two-deep. Charlton Sinclair missed part of the spring while focusing on academics, and when he arrived looked noticeably slimmer from last season, but will need the summer to further impress. With the depth thin at the position, even CB Jerome Murphy who came in as a safety, got some looks, and could possibly play some. This is another position that will be heavily watched this summer.
Stay tuned for the next series of answers