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Spring Practice Update

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Spring Game: Apr. 11, 6 p.m. – Johnny Unitas® Stadium

Saw first practice today. Not a whole lot to be said with over an hour of scrimmage. I'll have comments after this from Pete Shinnick. LB Jakari Patterson left in the portal. He was a situational player and they'll have another ship to add a DL, CB, S, or LB.

On offense. Carlos Davis was as advertised. Big arm and big body. Throws a really nice deep ball. First long throw was unfortunately was dropped by Oregon State transfer John Dunmore (6-2, 190), who was having a strong camp. Unfortunately, that was not the only drop of the day. There were several more to come but it's not like we're talking about young WRs. These were mostly veterans: DK James, Dunmore, Cee Chosen, etc. I do have to give kudos to Lukkas London, the 5-10 slot receiver, who has really progressed to becoming a key punt returner and receiver.

Running backs are deep though they lack a big back over 210+ pounds. Didn't see much of a heavy package with NG/FB Dion Crews-Harris, who they can use as a blocker in short-yardage and goal line formations. Right now, Devin Matthews is that short-yardage guy at around 5-9, 210 along with Tyrell Greene Jr. (6-0, 210), who looked ok. The guy I continue to fawn over is Christopher Watkins (5-10, 200), who just makes people miss almost every possession. I didn't see much of Bobby Engram's kid Trey Engram (5-6, 175) from Kansas State. I will pay more attention to him next time, but again, another young player having a good camp. Syracuse transfer Ike Daniels (5-11, 200) is a little bigger than I thought and runs a bit upright, but I think his upside is tremendous. Didn't see him break a lot of runs, but it's tough to run in a scrimmage when the defense pretty much knows exactly what you're going to do.

The O-line seems to be solid right with true sophomore RT K.J. Brooks and true junior LT Dan Volpe along with C Ralph Paige. All-Conference-caliber players. Left guard is a competition between Flo Staehler and Marist transfer Ibrahim Giwa. It's more about building depth and the fact that 3* York HS G/C Joden Nelson is pushing for a starting job at right guard with Jean German out, is a good thing that they are starting to build depth and will have some guys who are ready to take over next season.

The offense should be improved. If they start Carlos Davis he just gives the team a dynamic passer and somebody who can run when necessary. Maybe some RPI as well. But I think it allows them to stretch the file more and still utilize TE Carter Runyan in the intermediate game.

On defense. I would say there a few definite starters right now. I think one of them is Wagner transfer John Gioia (6-1, 230), who I think can elevate the defense based on experience and talent. Daniel Raymond (6-0, 220) is back and he adds speed and experience at OLB. After that, I think transfer Will Middleton (5-11, 215) from Saint Francis (PA) and Branson Peters (6-1, 215), a juco transfer, are in the mix. LB Rodney Roane (6-2, 225) was carted off with what appeared to be a knee injury. Hopefully that is not serious. They are bringing in a quality freshman from Florida in Alfred Thomas (6-1, 220), who could see time right away. But a transfer is surely needed at linebacker, mainly on the outside.

A transfer is also needed to get some pressure on the interior. They have a lot of big bodies up front, most of them 6-1 or shorter. Ernie Smith (6-2, 290) is back and I think he'll take over for Jesus Gibbs up front with Crews-Harris and a bunch of different nose guard-types in Jurnee Dunbar (6-0, 305), R.J. Evans (6-1, 285), who was injured last season and r-freshman Rion Roseborough (6-2, 315). Remember that name. Roseborough is going to be special. He's a space-eater, strong as an ox and can move. Another guy who could be in the mix when healthy is Shamir Boyd (6-2, 290), another r-freshman who sat out last season. Freshman J.R. Steagall (6-3, 305) from Texas could fit into the mix right away.

The potential is there in the secondary, but right now, it's kind of a mess. Shafeek Smith likely starts at one corner and then you have Justin Toler (5-10, 175), a Norfolk State transfer at the other spot along with Sean Tucker in the mix. It's too soon to say where the freshmen corners are in terms of depth chart. Zakaa Brown (6-1, 165) has the biggest upside, but they still have some other freshmen coming in including Emiril Gant (6-0, 170) from Florida and Cody Williams (6-0, 175) from DeMatha along with Shamir Johnson (6-0, 165) from Philadelphia. A transfer is a huge need even if one or more of these freshmen can play right away.

I would say the same about the safety spot where Xavier Terry has experience. Juco transfer Kaden White (6-1, 190) is in the mix with Myles Brodie (6-2, 185), who has had a good camp.

At punter, Justin Ritter was crushing the ball, which was surprising because he just came in as the rugby-style punter last season.


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Pete Shinnick

(second practice with tackling)

“Thursday we did some live work. This is our second day of live work. Good day. Competition across the board. Our number one offense had a pretty good day. Scored on drives. Move the ball a little bit.”

On whether the receivers were getting used to Carlos Davis passes

“Carlos Davis’s ball comes out similar to other guys. You crank up the intensity and it’s a comfort deal. You can get hit afterwards and that’s why you practice. That’s what makes him a guy that will continue add to what we’re trying to do here.”

On QBs

“Our top two from last year, Nate (Kent) and Sean (Brown), have done a really nice job. Carlos has added what we’re looking for and what we’re trying to get done. Winston Watkins (6-6 freshman) didn’t get any live reps, but practice reps and looked good in what we’re doing. The three are the main competition. Zach Jackson has moved to WR. It’s a good spot for him.”

Ritter the punter

“We like we’re he’s at. We rugby-punted with his last season.”


“We had a couple of injuries. Freakish knee injuries, but other than that, we’ve been great. Nothing that’s going to be kept out other than the spring.:

Ike Daniels, RB Syracuse transfer

“Ike has been a really nice addition. He’s had some positive plays today. He’s kind of slippery. Our three seniors, Devin, Chris and Tyrell lead the way. Ike has stepped up and Trey Engram is our fifth guy.”


“Ibraham Giwa and Flo Staehler are competition for left guard along with Joden Nelson.”


“We are (trying to find the right combination). We have some big bodies that are out. We’re a heavier group than we’ve been. Dion Crews and Junee Dunbar are playing well. Ernie Smith (5.5 sacks) is playing well. We have a good first group and we have young guys that are coming along.”

On LBs

“John, Branson and Will Middleton, the three LBs that we brought in, they looked really good today. I’m pleased with our two freshmen (Shiggs and Brown). They have a chance to help us. Myles Brodie is having a really good spring. Shafeek Smith has stepped up.”

On redshirt freshmen

“Rion Rosebrough made a late stop. He’s coming along very well. You lose three guys who played a lot up front. We’ve gotten a lot of reps from young guys.

On Pro Day

“Went well. We had 5 or 6 NFL teams there. They had a good opportunity to show who they are. Robert (Javier). There’s a lot of buzz about him right now.”

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