SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 11

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

Seals Ready To Breakout

Robert Seals has been a popular candidate to be a true breakout player for SMU's defense and rightfully so.

Seals has looked like an animal coming off the edge in practices and has been praised for his impressive speed by head coach June Jones and defensive coordinator Tom Mason.

After waiting in the wings behind Ja'Gared Davis, who is now with the Houston Texans, for a couple of years, Seals is ready to unleash and show everybody what all the hype is really about.

"The coaches trust and expect me to be better than Ja'Gared. Even Ja'Gared himself told me that he expects me to be better," Seals said. "He told me if you don't come out and be twice as good as me, you failed so I'm just working hard and hopefully I don't let people down. I want to prove them right."

And in order to do so, Seals put in plenty of extra work this summer.

His speed is what he's known for, but Seals hit the weight room hard and bulked over the last few months. Throughout the first few weeks of fall camp, he has also been focusing on the fundamentals.

"I just want to be perfect in my technique and go hard on every play," Seals said. "This summer, I really focused on strength and gaining weight. I put on like 20 pounds. It's muscle though. I'm still explosive. It's actually easier to take on blockers so it feels good."

Seals will be part of a seasoned linebacking corps that includes seniors Randall Joyner and Kevin Pope as well as two-year starter Stephon Sander. The group has been very vocal throughout camp and Seals says Thursday's practice was an indication of just how animated this defense will be on Saturdays.

"It was the first day of full pads so it was a little bit testy, but that's expected. Everybody was riled up," Seals said. "A couple of fights broke out, but we all love each other. It's a good feeling. We all try to get each other pumped up. It's fun."

With the season opener just a few short weeks away, Seals says the team is extremely anxious and looking forward to it everyday. He knows it will be a difficult start with games against Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU.

But Seals is confident this unit has the potential to be one of the best in the American Athletic Conference.

"We have high expectations for this defense. You know, we do have a new d-line, but I think they can be better than last year," he said. "Even though we had Margus Hunt, these new guys are talented especially Zach Wood. He's looking really athletic out there. But you know, our team goal is to win conference and go undefeated, that's always the goal."

VIDEO: Defensive Coordinator Tom Mason

Practice Notes:

- Thursday marked the first day of full pads.

- Freshman defensive back Darrion Richardson has been having an impressive camp so far. Thursday was no different. He had a couple of nice licks on receivers especially on Jeremy Johnson coming across the middle.

- Keenan Holman has been a nice surprise these last few weeks. I've been pretty down on him in the past, but he had some impressive catches today and caught a nice touchdown pass from Garrett Gilbert on a streak.

- Both Gilbert and Neal Burcham looked very accurate today during the team portion of practice. The two quarterbacks made some tight throws in traffic.

- One of Gilbert's throws between the linebacker and safety was a perfect laser to Kyle Guinyard, but he heard footsteps and dropped it.

- The defense was extremely vocal and animated for the first day of full pads. Things got a little heated towards the end and a few skirmishes broke out between nose tackle Nick Reed and some of the offensive linemen.

- Reed looked a little better in the middle today but still looks slow off the ball. Elie Nabushoshi actually came in there and didn't do too bad off a job. He also looked good rushing off the edge.

- Jarrett Spencer hasn't gotten a lot of attention but he was impressive today at defensive end as was Zach Wood.

- After practice, June Jones reiterated that he was happy with the depth at defensive line. When I asked him about nose tackle, he again said he was happy with it but may slide Wood inside during the season because ‘he looks natural there.'

- Jones also touched on the leadership of this team and said Gilbert is a ‘great leader'

- Jeremiah Gaines had another impressive day today and was targeted frequently in the red zone. Jones said Gaines will play this season.

- JaBryce Taylor surprisingly has a bad day of camp and dropped a couple of balls. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Cedric Lancaster had a terrific day and had a few eye-popping grabs.

- After practice, the team struggled while running sprints. Randall Joyner got the team pumped up though when he began to scream ‘this is overtime.' The entire team proceeded to chant ‘Who got this? We got this!' It was a great sign of team chemistry.

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