"So far, it's been what I expected," said the 6'2" 220-pounder during the Mountianeers' first week of spring football practice.
"There's a little bit of a difference. The guys I've been throwing to this spring have a little bit more experience, so it's been somewhat different," admits Bednarik.
One of the benefits Bednarik will reap this spring is the fact that Rodriguez wants all of his quarterbacks to get equal reps with the first team. That experience will prove to be invaluable to Bednarik and fellow signalcaller Dwayne Thompson, neither of whom saw varsity action during the Mountaineers' Big East Championship run last season. Although Bednarik did get a few snaps with the second unit last year in case of an emergency, he, along with Thompson, is getting more work with the veterans now. With Marshall and fellow senior Charles Hales graduating after next season, Bednarik expects to be in the fight for a starting job in 2005, but it won't be a cakewalk. Come August, Thompson and Bednarik will have two highly touted freshmen, Patrick White and T. J. Mitchell, to contend with as well. Bednarik received a crash course in the offense last year after Marshall suffered a concussion against Central Florida. When Marshall was declared unavailable for the following Saturday's contest at Boston College, Hales was named the starter and Bednarik had to learn as much as he could in a week. This spring, things will go at a little bit of a slower pace for the frosh.
"Last year, he was basically running the scout team so there wasn't a lot of pressure. Now, we're expecting him to compete so there's some added pressure for him," noted Rodriguez.
Bednarik's bloodlines include his cousin Chuck Bednarik, whose bust can be found inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With that type of pedigree, it's not surprising how Rodriguez describes his freshman signal caller.
"He's a tough guy, very conscientious."
While he isn't quite as athletic as Marshall, he brings that toughness and other intangibles to a Mountaineer team who this fall will have the highest expectations they've had since the 1998 season. But for now, Bednarik is going to take in his first spring and use it as a learning experience.
"My goal is to come out and work as hard as I can everyday. I've been pretty lucky to learn from Rasheed and Chachi (Hales)," notes Bednarik.
With highly touted recruits like Mitchell and White coming in this fall, Bednarik will be pushed to the max. His experience this spring will give him a better grasp on the offense, and when his number is called, you can bet that the "tough guy" from Bethlehem will be ready to go.