With the second week of spring practices underway, the next phase of players getting acclimated to their new roles has begun — even if some players don’t know exactly what role they’re settling into.
As former Bobcats such as Travis Carrie and Donte Foster are attempting to impress NFL scouts, and others such as Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship are searching for their professional football futures, the players that remain in Ohio uniforms are finding themselves locked in position battles in the early days of offseason practices.
Coach Frank Solich doesn’t seem to mind things that way.
“I really like the four practices we’ve gotten in,” Solich said. “The guys have a tremendous amount of energy and they’re really working hard at being good football players. We have a lot of guys that are battling for spots on the field, and we’re getting everybody snaps right now.”
The position battles begin at the quarterback position, where Derrius Vick, who will be a redshirt junior next season, has already received attention as a likely replacement for Tettleton.
Vick appeared in 11 games last season but never started. From the outside, it appears he has the edge over redshirt sophomore J.D. Sprague and incoming freshman Joey Duckworth, but there hasn’t been any official word from Solich on who the leading candidate is, and there likely won’t be word until at least after the Bobcats’ first scrimmage on March 28.
“We’ve got a lot of quality there in terms of ability within those guys; we just have to make sure that ability comes out,” Solich said. “We’re going to put guys in that position under pressure and see how they respond. It’s one thing to have a 7-on-7 drill with no rush, but it’s completely different when you’ve got guys flying all around you.”
The quarterback development and evaluation process has an additional wrinkle with the start of Scott Isphording’s tenure as the Bobcats’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“All of the QBs have already made tremendous strides,” Vick said. “We’ve been mentally prepared a lot better. We’re working on little things like footwork a lot more, and stressing being positive and being a leader, because that’s what the quarterback position is.”
The quarterback battle isn’t the only one raging on during practices.
The battle for who tops the running back depth chart will also be a factor with guys such as junior Daz Patterson and freshman Dorian Brown each looking to log a great deal of play time in the coming season. Patterson appeared in 11 of 13 games last season and started one, while Brown redshirted.
“I’m learning a lot of stuff to make myself a better player,” Brown said. “I had a good relationship with the two seniors that just left, and they taught me a lot. I study my playbook and my position a lot harder, and keep a lot of motivation in mind.”
As spring practices continue the next three-plus weeks, some positions are likely to be solidified up before others. However, Bobcat fans shouldn’t anticipate any significant depth chart news before the team sees live action.