This, despite the fact that the weather was ugly and turned downright miserable before the session ended. What started as a cloudy day with temperatures near 60, quickly went south as heavy rain moved into Faurot Field about 30 minutes into the 3:30 practice. By the time the rain stopped, about 5:30, cooler temperatures and a bitter wind whipped across the field.
The early part of spring practices will find the Tigers limited offensively, especially with three of the top four running backs hobbled by various injuries. Wearing red, no contact, jerseys today were Tony Temple (with a shoulder or arm problem as arm was in a sling), Jimmy Jackson (still recovering from foot problem), and Earl Goldsmith (still recovering from broken ankle in bowl win). QB Brandon Coleman (who really didn't seem hindered at all, but is nursing a sore foot) as well S Mack Breed and DL DeMarcus Scott were also in red.
To those familiar with the program, one of the biggest changes this spring is the number of players. Apparently, the bowl win, which came too late to net out of school recruits, has gotten those athletes on campus fired up. Or, as Pinkel, put it, "Maybe they want to win a ring." Whatever the case a number of walk-ons have joined the program. Here are a list of newcomers and I know this is incomplete as there were several more there in positions that shouldn't have had extras: S Alex Joannes, TB Jeffrey Waldman, WR Blake May, DB Erik Rudin, TB Austin Huff, DB Spencer Evans, WR Brandon Rooks, OL Zach Zellmer (red jersey), LB Joe Schumacher, LB Brent McCauley, PK Jeff Wolfert, OL Gordon Bowen, S Brandon Crouch, WR Chris Gares, DL Zach Milligan, DB Sherman Newsome, OL John Pearson, P Danny Rellegert, DL Chris Sabato and DB Kirk Scales.
Of the walk-on's, one of the D-Linemen and one of the safeties caught my eye. It's obviously early, and they both have a long way to go, but they looked like the belonged on the field.
JUST VISITING: What appeared to be a Vanderbilt Football coach and Arnold Britt took in the Tigers first practice. AB looked good. He also said he misses being out there already.
NOTICEABLY ABSENT: The regional media that were all in Dallas (I'm assuming it is drier there).
NOTICEABLY THERE: Paul Simpson made his presence felt. The junior college transfer picked off Chase Patton (one of his few mistakes on the day) on a 5-yard out route to TE Martin Rucker. Simpson gave too much of a cushion originally but flashed nice closing speed on the pick. Note to Mack Breed: You might want to get healthy soon or you might lose your third-string spot this spring.
QB DERBY: All three quarterbacks looked good, but the two Chases were a shade better today. BTW, Dan Barnes is now a wide-receiver. Why he isn't kicking is a mystery.
SPEAKING OF KICKING: Can you say Adam Crossett? Good. Please don't let him get hurt. Matt Casady is kicking better than last fall, but still doesn't have the leg strength to compete with Crossett. Trace Teas, the lefty kicker, looks improved, and we a newcomer on board that was okay, but nobody is in the same league with Crosset as a place-kicker right now. They did kick a lot today, but I can't say I saw any punts whatsoever. Not sure I even saw Matt Hoenes. Hmm is that a story, or just couldn't spot him?
TIGHT RACE: The tight end position should be solid again this year. Chase Coffman is just smooth. He caught everything today. EVERYTHING. T-Ruck looks a little lighter and had a good day as well. DQ looks visibly slimmer which is a good thing in this offense. Gissinger looked the same and had an up-and-down day with several drops and a couple of really nice catches.
OTHER NOTES: Marcus Woods has added more muscle up top. I mean this guy is chiseled. Xzavie Jackson looks a little leaner (not much but some). Baston is a man-child but has a ways to go experience wise. He should be there, easily, by fall. Connell Davis looks like a racehorse. For those of you wanting a little bigger back, get ready he will be at Faurot this fall.
Trenile had an up-and-down day. Chad Washington will play a lot this fall. Chad and Van may end up splitting time at the WILL. Hood looks even better. I just realized I didn't see Josh Barbo today. Might be a fluke.