In the category of players looking better is quarterback Drew Olson. Physically he looks like a solid 215 (which he said after practice he was) of muscle. In the drills, he looked like he's far more along than the first day of spring practice, which is usually a day of kinks and rustiness. He threw the ball very well, showing good arm strength, but also had an air of confidence that was unusual for this time of year.
"Drew Olson looked very, very poised today, and looked like he knew what he was doing out there today in directing the offense," Head Coach Karl Dorrell said. "That was very pleasing to see that. The thing I was worried about was whether he could take the next step, and it looks like he's done that. He had a very good first day today."
Craig Bragg also looked like he was ready to play, and far more muscular. Dorrell said, "Craig Bragg looked like Craig Bragg."
The receivers, though, fall in the category of something familiar, having the dropsies the entire practice.
Marcedes Lewis looked strong catching the ball in the drills, and more sure-handed.
At one point, new receivers coach Dino Babers was so frustrated with the ewecution of the receiver group in he made them all doing up-downs en masse.
Maurice Drew, the sophomore tailback, looked like the best player on the field, appearing even quicker and more explosive than last season. Manuel White, going through the drills, also looked very good, leaner than he was last season. "Even though he can't have contact it was nice to see Manuel White out here running again," Dorrell said. "Guys like Steven Vieira and Mike McCloskey, guys we haven't seen since they were injured, it was good to see them running around."
It was difficult to get a good look at the new JC players, since most of them are linemen and practice on the far reaches of Spaulding Field.
David Koral, the JC quarterback, made his debut. He appeared pretty nimble, able to move well and throw the ball well on the run. He struggled throwing the ball down the field, but it was just his first day of practice as a Bruin. Koral is pretty lean, and it'd be surprising if he was anywhere near the 220 pounds he's listed on the roster. Eddie Miller, the transfer from Louisville, looks to be about 6-0 and, even though it was just the first day, didn't have a lot on his throws today.
On the defensive side, Eric McNeal (who wears #2 now) stepped into the open strong safety position with Jarrad Page being sidelined after an injury he suffered in baseball (Page showed up at the end of practice to talk to the doctors and coaches). McNeal is truly a good-looking athlete, looking even more muscular than he did just a few months ago. Running with the starters was Marcus Cassel at the open corner spot. He, along with Jebiaus Brown, both looked considerably bigger physically.
"Our linebackers and our defensive backs, those are our veteran groups, and they had a very good seven-on-seven," Dorrell said.
Dorrell felt the team performed well for the first day. "It was a good practice. It felt good. It reminds me a bit of last year, but the focus and excitement is there. Are we clean? No. But the attitude is where it should be. We have a lot of young players out here trying to do the right thing, and they're making mistakes, but the attitude and effort were very good. I was pleased with that."
Among the other recruits in attendance were Michael Shelton, the DE/TE from Compton Dominguez; Jimmy Miller, the younger brother of Eddie Miller and linebacker from Venice; Richard Pacheco, a lineman from Canyon Springs, and two JC players, a defensive back, John Brasfield, from Cerritos College, and receiver Daniel Smith from Pierce College.