Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some thoughts on spring camp

Yale wrapped up spring practice on Monday and the 12 practices gave some of the younger players a chance to move up the depth chart and make a case for either a starting position or a more prominent role than they had a year ago.

I asked Yale coach Tom Williams which players helped themselves the most during spring camp.

"John Whitelaw, is clearly our No. 2 quarterback. He clearly established himself as a guy who can help our team win football games. I think he has shown the development that we saw at the end of last season and he is a good football player. At tight end position, Kyle Wittenauer is a guy who has stepped up to show that he is ready to earn some playing time at that position. I don't know if he is going to be the replacement this year for (Chris) Blohm but I think he can do some things that can help us win there. (Fullback) Elijah Thomas, some kind of guy. He can do some things that Shane (Bannon) gave us and as a young player he will continue to develop and he certainly made a move in the spring. (Center) John Oppenheimer, moving from defense to offense has helped us and ultimately he will be a really good player for us at that position. Of all the skill guys that we had, (tailback) Mordecai Cargill probably had the biggest spring.

"Defensively, (safety) Nick Okano, (linebacker) Brian Leffler, (cornerback) Collin Bibb and having (defensive tackle) Pat Moran come back and show he is a better player than he was when he left us, all those guys had great springs."

Now it is up to the returning players to build off what transpired in spring camp. At this point last year I would not have predicted that guard Colin Kruger or cornerback Chris Stanley would emerge as starters but they had strong performances in the fall camp to earn regular spots.

Yale will begin its fall camp (or summer camp if you prefer since the first day of fall is not until Sept. 23) on Aug. 19.

It will be interesting monitoring some of the same positional battles that were going on during the spring highlighted by Oppenheimer and Jeff Fell vying for the starting center spot, Leffler and Wes Moyer in contention for a starting linebacking spot, Okano and John Powers trying to earn the starting nod at strong safety with Bibb, Kurt Stottlemyer and Dawson Halliday likely fighting it out for a starting cornerback position.

Receivers Gio Christodoulou and Peter Balsam will be back while Yale will be welcoming a freshman class which will number somewhere between 28-30 and should have former Duke defensive lineman Tevin Hood in the fold as well.

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