Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hurricane Freshmen WR's Continue to Impress, Defense Taking Shape

The practices are closed until the opener against Charleston Southern on Aug. 28, but the players and coaches say enough after them to piece together some adequate news and notes about how they've gone. Here's what I've gathered:

* In yesterday's 7-on-7 drills, freshman wide receiver LaRon Byrd caught two TD's, continuing his string of mightily impressive performances. Fellow true freshman Davon Johnson supposedly made two jaw-dropping catches and even hurdled over two defenders on his way to a TD. It looks like Johnson is working his way into the discussion of top freshman wide receiver of the summer, along with Byrd and Travis Benjamin.

* Senior Bruce Johnson is far and away the top performer at cornerback in August, and it's a foregone conclusion that he'll start the year. Based on the early results, it looks like junior Chavez Grant will start on the other side. Demarcus VanDyke and Brandon Harris look to back up Johnson and Grant.

* Meanwhile, on the defensive line, as ends Eric Moncur and Allen Bailey continue to be held out for precautionary reasons, redshirt freshman Adewale Ojomo is turning heads. He is fast, has gotten significantly stronger since last season, and has found himself in the backfield a lot more than Hurricane offensive line coaches would like. His emergence is good news for depth at the defensive end position (beyond Ojomo, Moncur, and Bailey, there really are only three players - Steven Wesley, Marcus Robinson, and Andrew Smith).

* As for the defensive tackles, freshman Micanor Regis is impressing. He and former Northwestern standout Marcus Forston are locks to play major minutes this season, barring injury.

* All in all, the defensive is said to have dominated the last few practices. They are adept at creating turnovers and havoc in the backfield with surprise blitzes. Defensive coordinator Bill Young, who burst on the scene last year leading the Big XII champ Kansas Jayhawks defense, is making his mark early and instilling a more aggressive style to the defense which was Charmin soft in 2007.

* 16 days.

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