Of those rookies, defensive ends Xavier Cooper and Ian Knight made their presences known in big ways. Both off showed off serious wheels coming off the edge. Asked at practice's end if any of the seven new Cougars on the field caught his eye, Wulff mentioned them first.
"You know obviously in team situations you saw Ian Knight's speed on the edge was evident," Wulff said. "Xaiver Cooper had speed and strength on the edge, both those guys did."
Knight is a JC transfer from Kansas, and Cooper is a true freshman from Tacoma who grayshirted this past season after signing with the Cougars in the 2010 recruiting class.
Knight was in a battle with sophomoreleft tackle John Fullington during 11-on-11 drills, and the smoke was rising. A number of times Knight was able to fight through and put pressure on QB Jeff Tuel. Cooper, who worked primarily with the 2s, did much of the same and put heavy pressure on QB Marshall Lobbestael.
"I got a headache right now," Cooper joked after practice. "First day out there I'd give myself a C-minus. I still need to get into the defense because right now I'm just going off raw talent right now but once I get into the system I think I'll be alright.
"This spring session I just want to progress with my game," Cooper added. "I'm looking forward to try and make a leap to a starting role as a freshman. It's been a year since I've put on pads so it's kind of getting back into me but once I put on that switch I was ready to go."
Cooper was matched up opposite JC transfer Rico Forbes, and the two were in a see-saw tilt where on one play the two got tangled up and started jawing at one another.
The intensity was high between both players and on the next play Cooper exploded past Forbes and "sacked" Lobbestael. Cooper let Forbes know about the play with a passionate celebration, but on the very next play Forbes stopped Cooper right at the line.
Tuel said he loved watching every moment of their little war.
"We had guys and it was their first practice out here and they were leading, yelling, screaming. We saw Xavier and Rico out there with a little personal battle, Rico trying to get guys going. That was something I hadn't seen yet and it was his first practice and he's already stirring it up. That's what I like to see."
As for Tuel and the rest of the offense, efficient but not spectacular probably best describes the 11-on-11 sequences. A standout at receiver was Kristoff Williams, who redshirted this past season with turf toe. Monday, however, Williams showed no ill effects and hauled in a series of nice catches.
During 7-on-7 skelly drills, Williams turned in the play of the day when he was matched up with cornerback Tracy Clark. Tuel lobbed a 25-yard fade to his 6-foot-2 receiver, and Williams out-battled and out-leaped Clark and came down with the ball, securing it in mid-flight as he fell toward the ground.
At running back, Logwone Mitz is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but Rickey Galvin also saw plenty of action running with the 1s. Galvin, who broke his arm last season at Oklahoma State on his first collegiate carry, showed great burst going up the middle and Tuel said the lad has difference maker written all over him.
"Playmaking ability, speed, quickness, whatever you want to call it," Tuel said when asked what Galvin brings to the table. "He just makes things happen, really a playmaker."
Galvin wasn't a one-man show, though. His offensive line of LT Fullington, LG Wade Jacobsen, C Andrew Roxas, RG B.J. Guerra, and RT David Gonzales. had a solid day in opening holes for all backs.
‘ At center, Roxas had a fine day getting the ball to Tuel while in shotgun formation. Last year Zach Williams had trouble with low snaps, but Roxas was very efficient in getting the ball up in the air and Tuel was all smiles when asked about it following practice.
"Oh it was beautiful," Tuel quipped. "It was real nice."
As for the opening day as a whole, Wulff was pleased. "We want to start where we left off in the fall," he said. "I think we came out pretty sharp in a lot of ways, there was some rust but there was more familiarity with the coaches and the system."
ROOKIE SPEEDSTER HENRY EADDY