The second practice was a bit more of an intense one than the previous day, with a few pushing matches breaking out at various points between the offensive and defensive line. There was nothing really serious about any of them, but it seemed like the intensity was dialed up a bit.
The starting offensive line was mostly the same as Tuesday, but Malcolm Bunche (who looks like he's all of 6'6, or 6'7) was in attendance in street clothes. There's no word yet on when he'll be eligible, but Adrian Klemm is hoping for Saturday. Caleb Benenoch once again handled left tackle duties and looked good there. He's much quicker than a year ago, and his balance has improved. He lost a rep or two to Ellis McCarthy, but generally held his own. On the right side, Poasi Moala and Kenny Lacy split reps throughout practice, with both looking good at times. Moala did a nice job against Owamagbe Odighizuwa on several plays, keeping his feet moving against Odighizuwa's moves.
Najee Toran worked in with the first string at one point when Alex Redmond (who has a club on his hand) needed a breather. Toran is one of our early favorites from this freshman class. He told us he's 6'2, 280, but he plays with a tremendous mean streak. At one point, he got his hands on former high school teammate Zach Whitley on a run play and drove him about 15 yards down the field. He was also in on a couple of the pushing matches just because of how hard he was blocking guys (remember, they are not wearing full pads). We would be far from shocked if he played at some point this year.
The quarterbacks were similar to Tuesday, with Brett Hundley having a pretty good day. Asiantii Woulard was a little bit rough, and seemed to have some inconsistency in his throwing motion (he seems to be trying to shorten his motion). He'd make a few very good throws, and then would sail a couple. Jerry Neuheisel, on the other hand, looked consistently pretty good, with solid accuracy.
At running back, the only guy who really popped out was Craig Lee, who again looked explosive out of the backfield. He isn't super shifty, but his top end speed beats any other running back on the team. Jordon James also had a few nice runs.
Devin Lucien and Devin Fuller, as has been the case for the last year, were virtually uncoverable in 1 on 1s. Fuller didn't lose a rep going against Randall Goforth, and Lucien, on the outside, was consistently able to get behind the corner covering him and make grabs in the back of the end zone. Lucien seems to be ready to carry the mantle of No. 1 receiver.
Eldridge Massington didn't look super explosive, but made a few nice grabs during 1 on 1s. Mossi Johnson looks like he'll have a chance to contribute this year. Despite the knee brace, he's showing good quickness and speed, and was able to get open against both Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman in drills.
Nate Iese looks like he's going to be a lot of trouble for opposing teams to guard this year. His size and strength makes him a tough cover for most safeties. With Kennedy Polamalu's appreciation for big backs, we also wouldn't be surprised if he got some time carrying the ball. Thomas Duarte, at the Y, can make catches in very tight windows, and might have the best hands on the team.
On the defensive line, Kenneth Clark looked like he'll be impossible to block 1 on 1. It's hard to tell without pads, since the offensive line is at a disadvantage, but he looks quick, strong, and explosive.
Kenny Orjioke is getting the vast majority of the reps at the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Myles Jack, and he looks like he's a solid 245 pounds now. So far, he looks like the game has started to slow down for him a bit. Myles Jack, at the other spot, looks just as freaky as he did last year. If anything, he looks even more comfortable playing in pass coverage than he did a year ago, nearly registering two interceptions. He had a sack during team drills as well, so the pass rush may be coming along as well.
Zach Whitley, again, looks very athletic, and it wouldn't be a shock if he played both inside and outside linebacker this year, depending on the formation. His acceleration and ability to range sideline to sideline is very good, and he'll likely play a lot this year.
Ian Taubler was working in with the outside linebackers, and he seems to have lost a little bit of the weight he gained for the switch to defensive end last fall. He looks like he might be another guy that fits into that Elephant role as a hybrid OLB/DE.
In the defensive backfield, probably the biggest surprise is how well Tahaan Goodman is playing. Like we wrote in Tuesday's report, he is the first defensive back off the bench, filling in at safety in nickel which allows Anthony Jefferson to drop down to cornerback. He looks much more comfortable than a year ago, and during 1 on 1 drills, he was probably the best safety. His athleticism is something that even Jefferson and Goforth can't really match. It'll be interesting to see if he can crack the starting lineup by fall camp.
Priest Willis played mostly corner on Thursday, but also got a little bit of time at safety. He looks more comfortable than he did last year in coverage, but he struggled a bit during 1 on 1s. Marcus Rios also got a few reps, but it'll probably be some time before he's back to 100%. He didn't quite look like he had his speed back.
Recruits in attendance included 2015 WR/DB Ykili Ross, 2016 QB Malik Henry, 2016 LB Breland Brandt, and 2015 lineman Ve'ehala Tuihalamaka. 2014 signee Jaleel Wadood was also in attendance at practice, as were Anthony Barr and Shaquelle Evans.
In administrative news, Aaron Wallace and Aaron Porter are both not enrolled in school for spring, and will not participate in spring practice. Their status will be reevaluated next quarter.
Thursday Practice Report
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