SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 1

Come inside for stories and notes from SMU's first football practice!

Bird Ready To Take Flight

Dropped passes.

Dropped passes in practice. Dropped passes in warm-ups. Dropped passes in games. It's hard not to notice the theme here.

Last season, the SMU wide receivers dropped way too many balls and struggled to get in any kind of rhythm. Part of that could be it was their first year under wide receivers coach Jason Phillips or the fact that they didn't have a lot of time to work with their new quarterback, Garrett Gilbert.

Whatever the reason, the drops must stop in order for SMU's offense to finally start running like a well-oiled machine. On the first day of SMU fall camp, there was an emphasis on catching everything in site and not letting the ball hit the ground.

"Of course there is a focus on being more consistent and not dropping passes this year. We try to instill no dropped balls. Just catch everything if you can," said junior wide out Der'rikk Thompson. "If you drop it, just go to the next play. We just have to be consistent at catching the ball, and we're doing a pretty good job of that."

Consistency is another point of emphasis for this group especially on the outside, where Thompson hopes to develop into a true playmaker. Known as ‘Bird,' Thompson utilizes his blazing speed to blow by opposing corners and is Garrett Gilbert's primary deep threat.

But he knows he must improve his route running and chemistry with Gilbert before the season opener against Texas Tech. Although the game is still weeks away, that's all Thompson can think about.

"We are just picking up where we left off in the spring," he said. "We're already getting ready for Tech. That's what's on my mind just that first game and getting ready for that.

"This summer, I really focused on being consistent throughout my workouts and my work ethic. I'm just really mainly focused on Tech. I've already been watching their film already so I'm just really focused on them."

Throughout fall camp, Thompson also hopes to take on more of a leadership role and help his fellow teammates adjust to the changes being made by new passing game coordinator Hal Mumme.

"I've been telling the younger guys to pay attention to detail and just do the little things right. It's important to listen to coaches and do what they say," he said. "I expect Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman to be leaders out there on the field day in and day out."

Last season, Thompson caught 41 passes for 535 yards and four touchdowns, number he hopes to double in 2013.

Audio: SMU Head Coach June Jones

Day 1 Notes:

- Starting outside linebacker Stephon Sanders did not practice due to family issues

- Third string quarterback Conner Preston had surgery on his shoulder at the end of spring and will not play this season according to June Jones.

- Brian Cramer, who greyshirted, has added 50 pounds to his frame and now weighs about 280. He has transitioned inside and will play nose tackle this season.

- Kenneth Acker practiced at cornerback today but Jones says he will get reps at wide receiver.

- Opposite of Acker was Chris Parks not J.R. Richardson.

- Ben Gottschalk, who started at left tackle last season, has moved inside and got first team reps at left guard.

- Taking Gottschalk's place at left tackle was Chauncey Briggs. But expect Ashcraft to win the job before fall camp comes to a close.

- Sam Rice got first team reps at right guard while Kris Weeks got first team reps at right tackle over Seaver Myers.

- True freshman Daniel McCarty got second team reps behind Rice.

- Taylor Reich is still recovering from a foot injury and did not practice.

- With Acker on defense, Ryan Walker worked with the first team as a slot receiver. Darius Joseph served as his backup.

- Although he did drop an easy pass, Jeremiah Gaines looked like a monster, and it appears he does have the skillset to make an immediate impact as a true freshman.

- Garrett Gilbert had his down moments today but overall was pretty consistent and threw some nice deep balls. But one receiver he doesn't seem to have good chemistry with is Ace Holleman.

- Hal Mumme spent a lot of time talking to Gilbert and giving him pointers. The two seem to have a great early relationship.

- Neal Burcham showed off his accuracy today and made some nice throws in tight spaces.

- Keenan Holman had a solid day and made an impressive stretching grab. But he will have to fend off freshman JaBryce Taylor who also had a nice day.

- Shakiel Randolph and Hayden Greenbauer split first team reps at safety opposite of Jay Scott.

- Jerry Saena out of the American Somoa was a big surprise in the Class of 2013. But he is a nice physical specimen and did not tire easily during sprints.

- Deion Sanders Jr. and Trey Washington also showed nice stamina during sprints. Sanders had the quote of the day when he said. "Hard work is easy work."

- 2017 Dallas Episcopal LB Anthony Hines was in attendance at practice.

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