Monday, April 18, 2011

Positional battles heating up

When spring camp began, I would have predicted John Oppenheimer, Kurt Stottlemyer and John Powers to be the starters at center, cornerback and strong safety respectively. But after Monday's practice (the ninth of the 12 spring practices), it looks like Jeff Fell, Collin Bibb and Nick Okano have edged into the lead at those three positions. Another interesting fight for a starting position has been at outside linebacker were senior Wes Moyer is running neck and neck with Brian Leffler with Moyer currently holding the slight edge.

Okano is part of a very impressive group of sophomores to be and I will be writing more on that class later in the week as so many are pushing for spots on the two-deep chart.

As for Monday's practice, the highlight had to be a sensational over the shoulder catch by quarterback turned defensive back turned quarterback turned tight end/h-back Bryan Farris. The practice was also another showcase for rising junior receiver Allen Harris (there will be more on his emergence as an impact receiver during the spring in Wednesday's edition of the Register).

Defensively, Okano had an interception and continues to show the ability to be around the ball. It's easy to understand why the Yale coaches are so high on him. Defensive tackle Reed Spiller continues to be a force in the middle of Yale's line.

There are some position changes of note as former quarterback Dez Duron is now a receiver and former defensive back Russell Perkins also moved to receiver.

Duron was a former Louisiana state player of the year but with the emergence of John Whitelaw and Henry Furman, who are a year behind Duron, he was caught up in a numbers game. While the field of receivers at camp is also crowded. Yale coach Tom Williams has liked what he has seen out of Duron at receiver.

"He is not lost there, he does some good things and he has had some good practices," Williams said. "He does some things more naturally (at receiver) than he does at quarterback. Those two guys (Duron and Perkins) will have a chance to impact us."

It doesn't hurt that Gio Christodoulou is taking the semester off so he can return for a fifth year of eligibility and Peter Balsam is not expected to return to campus until the fall so there are more opportunities for receivers to get snaps during spring drills.

While there are two more practices to change things before Saturday's spring game (which starts at 2 p.m. at the Yale Bowl) here is how I see the starting lineup for Yale with returning returns in all caps.

QB: PATRICK WITT
TB: ALEX THOMAS
FB: Elijah Thomas
WR: CHRIS SMITH
WR: Allen Harris
TE: Kyle Wittenauer
OT: WES GAVIN
OG: COLIN KRUGER
C: Jeff Fell
OG: Gabe FERNANDEZ
OT: Roy Collins
K: PHILIPPE PANICO

DE: Austin Pulsipher
DT: JAKE STOLLER
DT: Reed Spiller
DE: MATT BATTAGLIA
LB: WILL MCHALE
LB: JORDAN HAYNES
LB: Wes Moyer
CB: DREW BALDWIN
CB: Collin Bibb
FS: GEOFF DUNHAM
SS: Nick Okano
P: GREG CARLSEN


Among those in attendance at Yale's practice on Monday was former Duke defensive lineman Tevin Hood, who intends to transfer to Yale. His application is currently being read but since he is intending to enroll in summer school and he was a regional winner of the 2010 National Football Foundation National High School Scholar-Athlete Award, it would seem as if his being accepted was little more than a mere formality.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad to see billy mchale is looking to make another big impact this coming season...kid has the raw talent to play on sundays

10:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the report jim, any report on how matt battaglia looked? I heard he had a monster offseason and put on a bunch of weight

1:17 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing Philippe is still the starting PK makes my blood run cold. But if he can fend off the challenges from freshmen kickers, more power to him. We need to go from horrible to solid in the FG department.

2:01 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

I think Battaglia has had a strong camp. He's up there with players like Jordan Haynes, Jake Stoller and Drew Baldwin who you almost take them for granted because they consistently make plays. I consider Battaglia to be a cornerstone player on the defense and he will need to be a presence as a pass rusher on a regular basis.

As for Panico, he's been pretty impressive on the field goal tries I have witnessed during the spring. Of course there is a big difference from doing it in practice and in a game so we will see how the kicking game performs in the fall.

3:59 PM 

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