Spring Ball: Day Eleven

PULLMAN - -The running back corps saw the return of a familiar face Friday, as <b>Allen Thompson</b> participated in his first practice since week one of spring ball.

Thompson, the No. 1 running back coming into the spring, had been down with a sprained right ankle -- the same one in which he suffered a high sprain last season at Stanford -- but returned Friday with no apparent pain. He was held out of contact drills throughout practice, and will probably get limited reps in Saturday's scrimmage, but it was encouraging to see him back on the field pain-free.

Although the running backs were bolstered by the return of Thompson, the crew lost a member when Jevon Miller was switched to receiver. Friday was his first day at the position, and although he had some troubles, coaches were encouraged by his abilities. Miller is the second running back this week to switch to receiver, as Jimmy Wilson was moved to the position on Tuesday. Miller's position switch is a little confusing, as he had appeared to improve greatly since the 2001 season, and was looking very impressive with the No. 3 offense during scrimmages. Time will tell if the position switch is permanent.

Another player making a triumphant return from injury was Jerome Riley, who played in his first full practice in a week. He originally injured his hamstring before last Saturday's scrimmage, and attempted to practice on Wednesday. However, the hamstring continued to bother him and he left early. Fortunately, he appeared unaffected by the injury Friday, and spent the entire practice with the No. 1 offense.

With the Crimson and Gray game just around the corner, special teams coach Kasey Dunn has started working on the team's kickoff and kick return teams. Look for them to practice this some on Saturday. Currently, the two kick returners on the No. 1 return team are sophomores Karl Paymah and Devard Darling. Both are lightning quick and have very good open field moves. Other players getting looks at returning are Marcus Trufant, Curtis Nettles, Jerome Riley, Lavell Anderson and Jermaine Green.

As for the Crimson and Gray game itself, rumor has it that the teams will be broken up much like last years -- the travel squad and several others on the Gray team, with the rest of the players on the Crimson team. While this takes any sort of drama or competitive balance out of the spring scrimmage, the coaches prefer this method, as it gives the top players an extra day of game simulation.

The team will practice again Saturday morning at 9:30, followed by a scrimmage at 10:15. Since the Crimson and Gray game will be run in the manner that it is, this could be the fans' final chance to see the No. 1 offense go up against the No. 1 defense this spring.


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