Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring practice to open tomorrow

Yale will open its spring camp on Monday at 4 p.m. with a practice at Clint Frank Field.

As usually is the case, the focus will be on filling the holes left by graduation.

On offense, Yale lost center Jake Koury, offensive tackle Alex Golubiewski, receiver Jordan Forney, h-back/fullback Shane Bannon and tight ends Chris Blohm and Caleb Smith.

Defensive end Tom McCarthy, defensive tackle Joe Young, linebacker Jesse Reising, cornerback Chris Stanley and strong safety Adam Money are the major losses on defense.

With Gio Christodoulou (who led Yale with 563 receiving yards last season), Chris Smith (a team-best 46 catches), Allen Harris, Deon Randall and Cameron Sandquist among the receivers coming back, that is still a position of strength even with the loss of Forney.

H-back/fullback/tight end is pretty interesting just because of the inexperienced group of candidates expected to play major roles. Alex Birks, who moved from tight end to offensive line, is now moving back to tight end while former tailback Elijah Thomas is being shifted to fullback. A group of talented rising sophomores (Keith Coty, Michael Leunen, Beau Palin and Kyle Wittenauer) figure to be in the mix at either tight end of h-back.

Former defensive lineman John Oppenheimer will be given every opportunity to win the starting center spot while converted tight end Roy Collins is the favorite at tackle.

While Matt Battaglia comes back to start at one defensive end spot, the other DE spot is up for grabs. Defensive tackle Jake Stoller could see some time on the edge while Allen Davis, Cliff Foreman and Austin Pulsipher got to see time last season with injuries to McCarthy and Battaglia as well as the Bulldogs' preference for rotating front seven players in and out to keep them all fresh. Even when Stoller plays end, defensive tackle could be one of team's strongest position with the return of Chris Dooley and Reed Spiller while former starter Pat Moran comes back after taking off last year.

Brian Leffler seems like a natural choice to push for a starting linebacking spot while Wes Moyer and Nick Schneider should also figure into the mix.

In the secondary, Kurt Stottlemyer has been plenty of time at corner while Collin Bibb and Dawson Halliday bear watching.

Yale coach Tom Williams believes in the secondary that "the one hotly contested position should be that (strong) safety position."

Special teams star John Powers as well as Nick Okano, who displayed some intriguing potential as a freshman, figure to vie for the spot.

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