Receiver Dylan Cantrell (pictured above right) was one of several Red Raiders who answered questions from RaiderPower.com after practice Tuesday.
Kingsbury on the first full pad practice overall: “It was good. They were pretty frisky. You could tell there was some animosity built up, so we had a few fights but I like the energy and I feel like they competed well and seemed to finish practice strong. So, that was encouraging.”
Dylan Cantrell is “full speed” according to Kingsbury.
Ian Sadler is not practicing, he is just participating in walk throughs because of the knee injury he suffered last season. “Letting his knee heal up, and get him 100%. We did not feel like he was 100% the entire year last year, so we want to get him 100% before summer workouts.”
On the surprises in outside receivers: “Tony brown’s development [has been surprising]. I think ya’ll are going to see a different version of him. He’s gotten a lot bigger, has a lot more confidence. As a true freshman last year he had some good moments, had some bad but I think he will be a lot more consistent player for us. Reggie Davis continues to come along...Hopefully he can continue to grow.”
On Jett Duffey: “He’s handled it very well he’s worked very hard since he has been here, studying up here everyday, trying to figure out the system. He goes up and there and if he doesn’t know what to do he kind of runs around and makes a play. It’s exciting. He is a competitor and love love loves football, so this is going to be a huge Spring for him moving forward.”
On if Hinton practices the way he plays: “He does. He has one speed. When he gets tired, he gets really tired. He’s doing really good. I think he will take that next step this year and really become a much more complete linebacker.”
Kingsbury said that Kolin Hill and Ondre Pipkins are veteran guys, who have played at other programs before that can “step in right away” as leaders on the defense.
On young guys on the o-line: “I think good. The two young tackles that we are very high on. Madison [Akanonmu] and Terence Steele have to grow up quick. They have to be able to protect the passer whether its on the inside or the outside and we expect them to be in rotation. They are learning fast, they are competitive and they are trying hard.”
On the o-line: “[I wanted to see] the toughness that the o-line had. A lot of guys have great size, great ability and great talent it’s just seeing how tough they are and where they are. That is something the pads really do tell, it’s different then just going man on man with no pads.”
On replacing his “comfort zone receiver”: “So far, Cameron Batson has been a great replacement [for Jakeem]. He’s kind of the same mold, same kind of guy. He’s gotten a lot of the shorter routes down. Outside wise, Dylan Cantrell. I played with him in high school, so I have a great comfort by having great timing with him in every route.”
On highlight reel catch so far: The best one has to be Zach Austin today. He ran a post over the middle, had a guy right on him and dove for a catch with one hand in the end zone. It was Jett Duffey’s throw.
On Jett Duffey: “He’s picking up things faster than I did. This offense, once you learn it, it gets easier but having to learn it on the go, like he is right now is tough. He has picked up pretty fast, and he’s made a lot of great plays, still a lot to learn but making great plays.”
On who is sticking out on the defense: “Pipkins, he’s really stuck out as a run stopper. He’s filling up a lot of the holes and whenever he is going, he is a man that can’t be stop. Other than that, Hitman [D’Vonta Hinton] he’s flying to the ball. Especially with the pads on you can tell he loves that stuff.”
On returning to practice: “It feels good. Last season was hard just not being out there with my teammates, so just having the opportunity to come back and compete with them and get after it with them has been fun.”
When asked what happened with his back he said it was problems with his SI function, and soft tissue damage. Going into fall camp last year he felt better than he ever has but he landed on it a few times, which was causing it to tighten and lock up on him but he is completely good now.
He said that Dequan Bowman has been electric, the kind of player that will make you miss and one with good hands so he has stuck out the most of the newer guys. Derrick Willies has been one of the hardest workers this season and will definitely be a help.
On defensive standouts: “One guy that has impressed me is Luke Stice [Linebacker transfer from Houston]. He’s been crazy just going wild out there. He has made some big plays, getting picks so the defense is flying around getting after it.
Note this is the first time he's spoken with the media, so hence reflecting on last season as well as Spring ball.
Hinton said his biggest adjustment as a freshman was just getting to know the defense better, knowing where he is aligned, his assignment and things like that. He said he felt he knew what he was doing with the defense after the Kansas State game.
In response to Kingsbury’s comment about Hinton having one speed he said, “I try to go hard every play, until I can’t breathe anymore and I try to go hard every play,” and he does that because he is hungry and loves the game.