Saturday (8/9) Freshman Practice Notes

On the third and final day of all-freshman practices, there were few surprises. After all, we already had two full two-hour practices to watch what they could do. But there were still some very notable notes to come out of the Saturday practice. Next up: the full roster on Monday.

  • The running backs had a fantastic day.  I have already written of the fleet feet of David Marrero, but today it was Jason Evans who really caught my eye in one-on-one drills.  He routinely was getting open against both of the linebackers, and he was doing it with a quick "shake" off the line of scrimmage.  I had seen in his high school film how natural he looked catching the ball, but this was eye-opening to see him creating space to allow for receptions.  In the photo above, you can see he has two to three yards of separation on Michael Okwo, who is one of the fastest LBs at his age you can imagine.
  • Also great to see Emeka Nnoli cleared for more action in practice.  He looked like he was taking a full complement of repetitions in all drills.  I don't know if he's 100% in the trainers' eyes, but he is quickly getting up to speed.  With my first really good look at Nnoli, I'll tell you that he has an almost Casey Moore-like frame, but moves with the lateral quickness of a smaller tailback.  Scary stuff.
  • Another offensive standout I've hailed in the two previous practices is Evan Moore, and he delivered again Saturday.  His two-sport role at Stanford, not to mention identical positions (WR, PF), make for obvious Teyo Johnson comparisons.  But longtime observers of Stanford football are talking about "Easy" Ed McCaffrey when they see Moore.  He moves so well for his size, and unlike Johnson he looks smooth catching the ball in stride downfield.  For a target that big, I liken Moore's hands to what we have all come to love with Brett Pierce.  Both make a great target and catch the ball easily out in front of their body.  As for the discussion for whether Moore should be a WR or a TE down the road, I think that's almost academic.  With the role of the TE we will see in the offense this year, so often split out or in motion, the distinction between those two positions for someone like Moore will be greatly blurred.
  • The question that seems now much more relevant when pontificating about Evan Moore is his future this fall.  He negotiated a football redshirt before he committed to Stanford last fall, so that he could hit the ground running in basketball as well as football.  Should he play this fall as a true freshman in football, it would be unlikely that he could make many of the hoops practices, and that could put him weeks or months behind his hardcourt teammates.  But watching Moore these three practices - you can't help but wonder if he could make an impact on the gridiron come September.  One football coach told me after Saturday's practice that he's certainly impressed enough.  "He could play for us this fall," the coach asserted.  "You can't teach 6'7" and those hands."  Let's see how he does against the upperclassmen this coming week, but I'm reticent to disagree at this point...
  • While these pad-less practices show you more at the skill positions, Saturday's practice included some one-on-one battles between the OL and DL.  Who did Emmanuel Awofadeju say he had the toughest time with?  6'10" David Long.  "You just can't get around him," the quick defensive end admitted.  Watching Long in drills, it's clear that he can't move with the quickness of a 6'6" OT, but his wingspan is going to do a lot to help him at this level.
  • Awofadeju also says that the reason he has most enjoyed these first few practices is none other than his position coach, Peter McCarty.  "I'm really enjoying Coach a lot," he says.  "He's teaching us a lot of stuff - he makes us better.  He's particularly working on us staying low.  He wants us to be knee benders, not back benders.  I'm having a lot of fun, though I'm confused sometimes with what I'm supposed to do.  But the coaches say it's better to go full speed and mess up than to stop and think about things.  I'm trying to do more of that."
  • Speaking of defensive linemen, I'm incredibly impressed with the physiques that the defensive tackles brought into camp.  Mike Macellari and Nick Frank look absolutely awesome, and both have put on a lot of great weight since I last saw them in the winter.  They were both players with a reputation for strength in high school, but two players who had not yet grown into their bodies were David Jackson and Chris Horn.  Both look better than I expected this week.  A few other players with bigger bodies than I expected: Michael Okwo, Emeka Nnoli and Michael Horgan.
  • Speaking of Jackson, during a special teams drill, he was doing some long snapping alongside specialist Brent Newhouse.  Just the two of them, which presumably points to Jackson being identified as a possible contributor for depth at the important special teams position.
  • Head Coach Buddy Teevens' parting comment after leaving the practice field on Day Three?  "We are really excited about a lot of these guys," he offers.  "They are attentive and they work hard.  It's great to have decent numbers, and they're a cohesive group.  But come Monday, the game gears up a notch."
  • If you're wondering about this first week of full roster practices, they will wear just helmets and "shock pads" the first two days.  Then they add upper-body pads Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday will be the first day of full pads.  Saturday will be the first day of two-a-day practices.

left to right: Mike Macellari, Nick Frank and Michael Okwo

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