Thursday, March 22, 2007

Correction

An important correction I need to make people aware of: unless an incoming recruit has *already enrolled* at Lehigh for the spring semester, they CANNOT be a part of spring drills with the team. I posted something yesterday that could lead one to believe that incoming freshman were invited to camp early, which is NOT the case. I've corrected it now and posting this as well to get the word out.

Didn't mean to mislead anybody.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is It Spring Football Time Already?

Could it already be that time of year? With ice still on the ground, grass still not even close to being ready, bulbs not close to being in bloom? Incredibly, it is. Tomorrow, spring practice starts for the 2007 Mountain Hawks. Every year it's the first peek at what we can hope for in the 2008 season, and (as always) it's the first time the hard-core fans can really start to speculate in earnest how good this football team can be.

Except for the Brown/White game (which is free and open to the public) and the Youth Coaches Clinic on April 14th (where the Lehigh coaching staff offers a coaching clinic ($20) for folks who are interested in football coaching at any level), practices are closed and can only be attended if you have special permission from the athletic department. This year (weather permitting) I hopefully my family and I will be going to the Brown/White game - barring that, I may try to arrange to pop my head in on another practice. We'll see.

The entire schedule is posted in the link above, but I'll also post it here (all dates and times are subject to change do to weather, field condition, etc.):

Thursday, March 22 – 7:30 PM (Ulrich Practice Field)
Friday, March 23 – 9:30 PM (Ulrich Practice Field)
Saturday, March 24 – TBA
Tuesday, March 27 – 4:15 PM
Friday, March 30 – 4:15 PM
Saturday, March 31 – TBA
Monday, April 2 – 4:15 PM
Friday, April 6 – 4:15 PM
Saturday, April 7 – TBA
Tuesday, April 10 – 4:15 PM
Thursday, April 12 – 4:15 PM
Saturday, April 14 - 2:45PM (2007 Spring Lehigh Youth Football Coaches Clinic)
Tuesday, April 17 – 4:15 PM
Thursday, April 19 – 4:15 PM
Saturday, April 21 – Brown and White Spring Game, 1:00 PM (Goodman Stadium)

Most fans seem to be unaware that it's usually the hard work and preparation that starts this week that sets up a successful football season.

What do we have? Who's a lock for a starting position? What positions offer possible battles? Here's my take on the class of 2008 going into the spring football season.

Losses
Without a doubt the toughest shoes to fill are in the defensive front seven. Probably the biggest impact players gone are NT Eric Rakus and LB Micah Greene, but other solid performers for us like DT Royce Morgan, DL Paul Fabre, and LBs Matt Mohler, Chris LaMont and Rusty Campion. That's six starters, and one guy (Morgan) who split so much time that he could almost also be considered a starter!

On offense, the biggest losses are RB Marques "Double Deuces" Thompson, our leading rusher from last year, and WRs Lee Thomas and Frank "Al Del Greco" Trovato, our two leading receivers from last year (and our lead punt return specialist). We also are losing at least three "O" linemen that did tough work last year in T Jason Russell and Gs Pete Morelli and Jim Petrucelli, as well as TE Landon Maggs and FB Greg "Grandpa" Fay. Overall, we're replacing potentially 13 starters on both sides of the ball, including some players who have given us a lot of production last year.

Locks
Returning for us is senior QB Sedale Threatt, who (like last year) is penciled in as our starting QB (barring injury, of course), and junior WR Sekou Yansane who was starting to emerge as a speed threat on the outside, while senior WR Pete Donchez and junior WR Mike Fitzgerald also return to the receiving corps.. All-Patriot lineman Jimmy Kehs returns in his fourth year at tackle, and returning at running back are a slew of running backs: senior Richard Forman and juniors Matt McGowan and Josh Pastore.

Defensively, the strength is in the defensive backfield, where senior FS Ernie Moore, our leading tackler, returns along with seniors Julian Ahye, Daynin Blake, and Aaron Gilliard - a veteran bunch. After that, though, it's real interesting, with only one junior from the front seven returning: junior DL Brian Jackson.

Punting and kicking duties are also a lock: first team all-Patriot junior P/K Jason Leo returns - although it's possible that he may specialize in one or the other (probably kicking if I had to guess).

Battles
The biggest battles will definitely be in the defensive front seven in September. On the line, the junior Brian Jackson has the inside track for a spot, while it will be interesting to see who emerges from a slew of linemen: B.J. Benning, Frank Giacalone, Joe Dancho, Paul Bode, Keith Johnson or Ted Smith.

Linebacker is another area where competition should be fierce. Sophomore LB Matt Cohen seems like a good bet to be in the mix, as well as senior LB Justin Weaver, but you can bet Tobi Showunmi, Tim Diamond, Heath Brickner, Brian Tucker, Dan Parris and Brad Thomas could be looking for spots as well. I can't recall the field ever being so wide-open.

The offense seems largely set, but there are a few places to look for battles: for example, who will be the go-to running back, Matt McGowan or Josh Pastore? Who will be the go-to receiver, Pete Donchez or Sekou Yansane? Who will be the big fullback: Adam Watson or John Piascik? Will Kevin Bayani or Patrick Casey crack the "O" line?

Aaah, spring.
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