Alvarez Comments on Tuesday Practices

The 2002 recruiting class hit the field for the first time Tuesday at the O'Connor Center in Madison. Coach Barry Alvarez gave his impressions of the class following the afternoon session. Here is what Alvarez thinks about the highly-touted class of freshmen.

Two of the four freshmen-only practices are in the books, and Coach Barry Alvarez is pleased with what he's seen from a highly-touted recruiting class so far.

"They're a very athletic group. They tested very well, and all of them have very good speed," Alvarez said after Tuesday afternoon's practice. "This whole class as a group is very athletic. It's probably the best group as far as the vertical jump, and how they ran our shuttle run and that type of thing. I was impressed with their athletic ability."

All eyes were on linebacker Alex Lewis and kicker Scott Campbell during Tuesday's practices, as those two are players expected to contribute immediately. Alvarez said Lewis is a legitimate 4.5 speed player with tremendous athleticism, while he liked what he saw from Campbell's leg during kickoff drills Tuesday morning.

"He kicked it well. His hang time was about four seconds, it was nice and high, and other than one kickoff, it was between the (five yard line) and into the end zone, with a little breeze. I was pleased," Alvarez said.

With the exception of the defensive linemen and quarterback John Stocco, every freshman was placed at an offensive and defensive position Tuesday. The coaches plan to make quick evaluations based on their athleticism on both sides of the ball, and place freshmen in positions they have the capability of contributing immediately.

Alvarez said there can always be changes made down the road, but he hopes his coaching staff can make some quick, intelligent decisions about the type of talent available and where they're best suited.

"Some of them, we think can be in the depth," Alvarez said. "I'm not counting on anybody to start, but it might be a third tailback. It might be a couple of backup corners. Whatever it may be, they need to start getting reps, and the more reps they get, the better. So I think for their sake and ours, the sooner the better. I want to give some of these kids a chance."

Here are some more comments from Alvarez following Tuesday afternoon's practice:

On whether he's assessed any discipline to Brett Bell or Jeff Lang in light of their incident and subsequent court date last week:

"No. I have assessed it. If I was going to reprimand them, I would. If I was going to discipline, I would. I handled the discipline in my way, and there won't be a suspension."

On the value of freshmen-only practices: "It helps them get their feet on the ground, get a little more secure with what we're talking about, learning our terminology and being familiar with the setting, so when the varsity comes in and the tempo picks up, it's just an easy transition. I like doing this, and it's a slower pace, and we'll explain that to them, that in a few days, the bullets start flying a lot faster and they're real. And hey have to understand that. But this gives them a chance to kind of ease into the water."

On how he will handle the intense heat that resulted in several tragedies on football fields last summer:

"This is really not that strenuous with these guys. It's more teaching. It's much slower-paced, shorter practice. We're only out here about an hour with them. We're giving them three different breaks. With the varsity, we will pick up the tempo. The first thing we'll do is educate them about hydrating, about knowing when they're in trouble, realizing when their body is in trouble. We will give them plenty of breaks. We'll break down practice as we did last year. I thought we had a good plan. We had popsicles out here, a lot of ice, a lot of ice water. We're going to be sensitive to it. But I think the players have to be educated in the same respect."

The OBR Top Stories