Day One In Pads Yields Big Hits

The Mountaineer football tema didn't waste any time once they donned full gear for the first time this spring, as several big hits highlighted the day's action.

Fullback Hikee Johnson delivered the offense's biggest blow, taking a swing pass and bulldozing freshman Antonio Lewis to the turf. Lewis was wobbly upon arising, and the hit drew notice from everyone in attendance.

"I think he was seing the whole galactica," head coach Rich Rodriguez joked afterward.

The defense got in their shots as well. Adam "PacMan" Jones blew up Ryan Thomas during a seven on seven session, and Vince Beamer also have a big hit form his free safety position.

The hits, along with the overall intensity, drew praise from Rodriguez, but he was not quite as happy with the second straight session of loose execution, which included a few dropped passes and some problems with the quarterback-center exchange. However, the Mountaineer mentor noted that the team "is a little ahead of where we were last year," especially on offense.

Josh Bailey was a casualty of practice, reinjuring his shoulder during drills. Bailey had the shoulder retaped, but did not return to action. It was the same shoulder he had trouble with throughout last year. Jahmile Addae, as planned, was in a green jersey, and did not particpate in any full contact work, which paved the way for Beamer and others to get a great deal of time at free safety.

With pads on, the offense and defense were unleashed for the first time this spring, and they took full advatage of the opportunity. the running game received its first big workout of the year, with inside run getting a great deal of attention. Hikee Johnson, at fullback, was solid as a lead blocker, and along with Kay Jay Harris caught the ball well out of the backfield.

The offense also worked on aspects of the two minute drill, with ballcarriers being coached to get out of bounds instead of trying for an extra yard or two. The field goal teams also got their chance at the end of the session, with Brad Cooper missing his first attmept but nailing the rest.

The offense and defense squared off in both seven on seven and, for the first time this spring, full eleven on eleven sessions.


Miquelle Henderson and Chris Henry both turned in big receptions. Henderson had an acrobatic grab over Jones, and Henry made a one-handed grab against double coverage. He also took a short screen and rambled 60 yards for a score.

"Henderson is in the best shape of his life," Rodriguez noted of the senior wideout.

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The offense and defense comepted with the scoring system that takes into acounts first downs, turnovers, stops and scores. the offense came out ahead 44-39, which caused the defense to "drop and give Rich 20" pushups after practice.

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Grant Wiley, Chris Haering, Undra Johnson and former WVU quarterback Jajuan Seider took in practice. Seider is coaching at a Palm Beach area high school in Florida.

After two days of focus on ball catching drills and pattern running, the receivers put in a lot of individual blocking work, both in eleven on eleven and singly against blocking dummies.

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Although all the running backs performed well, Jason Colson seemed to have the edge this day, as he ran hard, especially during the tough inside run portion of the practice.

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The offensive and defensive lines squared off for a couple of periods worth of one on one combat. This, of course is what line coach Rick Trickett has been waiting for, and he responded with enthusiasm.

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Charles Hales and Dwayne Thompson both took some snaps at wide receiver. Rasheed Marshall and Hales began the session in black shirts, which signifies no contact, but took them off for several periods later in the day. Whistles were still quick, but the QBs did get some contact, a first under the Rodriguez regime during spring practice.

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Transfer punter Phil Brady boomed several kicks while punting across the field. From behind one sideline, Brady put several kicks into the opposite stands.

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