August 8, 2012

Some Wednesday practice nuggets

The underwear Olympics, er non-padded practices are over. The players will be in shoulder pads, shorts and helmets on Thursday and in full pads on Friday. Here's where things are after three days of non-padded practices:

1. David Ash and Case McCoy both practiced with the first team today, and both had a good day.

My source said, "Don't know if one looks better than the other after the practices with no pads. We may start to get some separation when the pads come on."

2. For those wondering about Mike Davis, my source said Davis hasn't dropped a ball in three days.

"He's off to a great start," the source said.

3. And there's been a John Harris sighting. Harris is starting in the slot with Jaxon Shipley at the Z.

"People forget what a loss John Harris was at the beginning of last year," the source said. "He's a big, fast target inside, and both quarterbacks trust him."

4. Speaking of receivers, freshmen Cayleb Jones, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders are catching on quickly, making some plays and gaining the respect of their peers.

"Don't know how much game time they'll get, but the future is bright, because they are legit," the source said.

5. It bears repeating, because he had another good day today in practice, but freshman CB Duke Thomas continues to play position defense down the field well beyond his years.

It's been practices without pads, but the sense is when the veterans and newcomers start practicing together on Thursday in shells (and in full pads on Friday) that Thomas will be setting the pace for sophomores in the secondary like Leroy Scott, Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson.

6. Also from the freshman file, linebackers Peter Jinkens and Dalton Santos have easily been the most vocal and energetic during the newcomers' practices. Should be interesting to see how they mix in with the veterans in shells on Thursday and full pads on Friday.

"There's a lot of excitement about Jinkens and Santos and how far they can come this fall camp," the source said. "There's opportunity in the two deep for these two behind the starters if they can grasp everything. And they've shown the willingness to put in the work."

7. Junior college DT Brandon Moore had a good summer.

There is a lot of excitement to see this guy in pads. Bennie Wylie's efforts paid off the most with the big boys up front. Moore is close to 320, which may be the lightest he's been in three years (his JUCO coaches say he got as high as 345).

But he's still a behemoth at 6-5. He struggled in the heat when he got here in the spring, but is able to go longer and longer.

"With Moore you want eight good snaps in a row, then give him a blow and get him back out there," the source said.

On the offensive line, credit Wylie for improving the bench press of sophomore center Dominic Espinosa by 120 pounds - from 280 to 400 - in one year.

Now, you have to consider Espinosa was coming off shoulder surgery a year ago, and his strength was down, but still. Increasing a guy's bench by 120 pounds in a year is significant.

One of the tests of how far Espinosa has come in terms of his strength will be facing guys like Moore and Desmond Jackson (the strongest player on the team in terms of bench - 500 pounds).

That all starts in shells on Thursday and in full pads on Friday. We'll keep you updated.

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