Practices are closed to the media, save for 30 minutes at the beginning when players are stretching and participating in special teams drills. Riveting. So I cannot give you too much insight beyond what I've heard and what I've deduced from conversations with coaches and players. Plus, I've been at the Jamie Farr LPGA golf tournament the past several days, so my visits to the Glass Bowl have been limited. Expect more blog posts in the coming days.
Some thoughts, starting with the good:
-Coach Campbell mentioned the offensive line as one of the bright spots of camp, which should assuage some concerns about the need to replace three solid starters. There's little doubt in my mind this unit holds the key to the season. If they play well, or even adequate, this could be a championship year. If they struggle, this could be a disappointing season.
-Alonzo Russell. The redshirt freshman receiver has elicited strong reviews. Campbell called the 6-4 Russell "special" while cornerback Keith Suggs referred to him as a "freak." Russell sat out last season, waiting to qualify. If he keeps his academics in order, he could help this program for years to come. Virginia Tech offered him a scholarship out of high school but soured when it looked like Russell wouldn't qualify.
-The safeties. Jermaine Robinson and Mark Singer might be the best safety tandem in the MAC. Singer, who missed all of last season with a torn labrum, has had a good camp, Campbell said. No signs of rust.
And a couple of concerns ...
-Running backs. Behind David Fluellen, who is being held out of team drills with an injury, I see a string of question marks. Can Cassius McDowell, who the coaches seem to love, make a successful conversion from receiver? Is David Pasquale more than a short yardage back? Can freshman Damion Jones-Moore deliver on the hype, and if yes, will it happen this year? Two side notes: Darius Reeves is injured and will miss extended time. Also, of the three walk-ons that participated in the spring, only Ricky Pringle remains with the team. Pringle is a transfer from Ohio, where he walked on. For now, I see more quantity than quality, although I'm high on Fluellen.
-Cornerbacks. Six guys are competing for two starting spots. With the exception of senior Byron Best, they all are first or second year guys. Time will tell if any of them are capable starters in the MAC.