Freshmen Report, First Practice

Stanford Football is finally here, and it started with a bang as 30 Cardinal freshmen reported late yesterday on campus and then today went through a full day of meetings, measurements... and of course the first fall practice. Though many questions remain after just one workout (<i>sans</i> pads), here are a load of notes across the offense, defense and special teams.

  • Without question, the best player who stood out was WR Mark Bradford.  He grabbed every ball that came is way, and he's so smooth running his routes.  "Smooth" is the word I kept using as I described what he was doing throughout practice.  "Effortless" would be another apropos word.  Bradford flat-out is a play maker, and even after watching one practice out of pads I am calling for him to play this fall as a true freshman.  In running and agility drills, he also shows his underrated athleticism and quickness.  He may not have the top straight-line speed, but he has great football speed.
  • Bradford looked even better because the throws T.C. Ostrander was making.  There was a lot of passing today, given the absence of pads, and the Atherton freshman surprised a lot of observers with both his accuracy and the strength of his arm.  It will be interesting to see if he can throw this many balls for three straight days of freshman practices all by himself.  Remember that last year both Trent Edwards and David Lofton split duties.  After this practice, receivers and tight ends were giving a lot of love to the slinger who gave them balls in all the right spots.
  • Tim Sims looks like a heck of an athlete, but he's raw in technique.  Look for him to spend a lot of time soaking in what David Kelly can offer him.
  • Evan Moore had a heck of a day catching the ball, showing great hands on several intermediate patterns.  His route running will need to get a lot crisper, but he's a great target who converts at the end of the play.
  • David Marrero on the first day looked like he had the quickest feet of the backs, in both cone drills and in the open field.  He had one very smooth reception in seven-on-seven drills to open, but had several drops that irked him to no end.  The receiving aspect of the game is probably his biggest challenge right now as a Stanford running back.
  • David Long is every bit as huge as you could imagine.  Granted, this is not a very tall OL class, but he absolutely dwarfs them.  He's a legit 6'10" and reportedly weighed in at 320 pounds.  Big hips and big chest show that this guy will be able to carry a lot of weight.  His challenge right now is to convert some of his mass into good weight, though.
  • Nice interception by Nick Sanchez downfield on an underthrown ball by Ostrander.  Sanchez is also a little raw, but shows quick feet.  Defensive backs coach A.J. Christoff at one point yelled across the field to Sanchez after a play, "You sure to learn quick, Sanchez - that's for sure!"
  • Both Michael Okwo and Landon Johnson were harassing RBs and TEs throughout the coverage and seven-on-seven drills.  Both made plays, but both also need a lot of instruction from Tom Williams on pass defense.  Okwo shows great quickness and instincts, already.
  • Lots of special teams work already, including about a third of the roster getting an early look at catching punts.  A slew of players were also tested for long snapping.  These are the first checks to see who might emerge in these important roles.  Speaking of snapping, Brent Newhouse looks like he could use some mass from the weight room and training table.  I'm not sure that he can block at this level after snaps at his current size.
  • Some number changes to note:  Bradford is now wearing #4 (vacated by Jai Miller); Evan Moore and Matt Buchanan have switched, with the former now #40 and the latter now #19.
  • Once again, the white helmets are in effect.  Looks like the coaching staff will make players earn the "S" decal for their helmets just as they did in the spring.
  • Today's practice came on top of a busy schedule, including conditioning tests this morning.  As always, they were a rather rude introduction into the level of fitness and strength required at Stanford, but most of the guys acquitted themselves well.  No 40 yard dashes are run, so don't bother asking for those times.  Endurance runs, vertical leaps, standing broad jumps and lifting were the main components.  The top verticals were recorded by Tim Sims, David Marrero and Mark Bradford - all around 32 inches.  The longest broad jump was Marrero's.  Mike Macellari and Patrick Danahy led the bench press with nine and eight reps, respectively, at 275 pounds.  Note that weights were benched at either 135, 185, 225 or 275 pounds, depending on your body type and strength.

Finally, Stanford had an unofficial visit today from Drew Gause, a top running back out of Spring, Texas (Houston area).  He is also a bigtime baseball recruit and prospect, and drove up I-5 with his father on this one-day break during the prestigious Area Code Games being held down in Long Beach.  Gause not only took in the football practice and met with several coaches and players (Josiah Vinson walked around practice with him), but the two-sport recruit also met with the Cardinal baseball coaches during the day.  He's a 5'11" 205-pound running back and center fielder getting a lot of interest at the Division I level for both football and baseball.  We'll catch up with him next week when he returns to Houston after the completion of the Area Code Games.

Once again, Buddy Teevens sets the tone for the importance of special teams by starting the first practice of the 2003 season by working with placekicker Jay Ottovegio and long snapper Brent Newhouse on snapping.




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