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Spring Practice #3, March 19, 2011

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The Tigers had their third practice of the spring today, and again, practice was open to the public. The squad was out in helmets and shorts, and this was the first practice on the grass fields, which had finally dried out enough for the team to use. In addition to the fans that came out to watch practice, a couple of the players that Coach Larry Porter signed in February attended practice, including quarterback Taylor Reed out of El Dorado High in Arkansas. Also spotted was Wooddale linebacker Kevin Green.

The team utilized 24 periods for practice and both sides of the ball did some good things during the team periods. Andy Summerlin continued to show signs that his shoulder is not hindering his progress as he made many crisp throws both inside and down the field. He hit Curtis Johnson and Billy Foster for some nice tosses down the field, and also had a couple of quick screens to running back Jerrell Rhodes and solid throws to tight ends Andrew Ene-Ita and Justin Henderson. Will Gilchrist is also making strides within this offense and continuing to compete at that position. He hit some on-target throws to redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis and Kevin Wright, who are both working hard and competing this spring. The defense appears to have some much-needed speed and the line is continuing to apply pressure. Akeem Davis picked off a pass to give the defense one of their turnovers, and the young players in the secondary such as Lonnie Ballentine, Mohammed Seisay and Taurean Nixon continue to learn and compete and make plays.

Porter again was pleased with the effort and the energy in practice.

"This was a very productive practice," said Porter. "I thought there were a lot of things that we can learn from and go off of from this practice. There is a lot of good stuff on this practice film. I am looking forward to getting into the meeting room on Monday and allowing these guys to see this film because I think they will be proud of their progress."

The Tigers did also have a special guest return to his alma mater and speak to the team after practice. DeAngelo Williams watched as a true fan of the school he represents, and then spoke to the team about how much he loves this university and even spoke some about the reason he came to Memphis in the first place. He ended his talk by saying that every player should take pride in the helmet. He is a true ambassador of this university and it is obvious that he "bleeds Blue and Gray," as he said. Williams also had a chance to see the new Tiger Football weight room while he was here.

"It's always a privilege and a great pleasure to have some of your own come back, but to have the most productive player in Memphis history show his face and support us in a very strong and encouraging way, I think that signifies that things are headed in the right direction in terms of getting our own back involved," said Porter. "I look forward to having many more do the same as we go forward."

While it was tough to handle the wonderful aroma of the grill during practice, it was a nice treat to have the Highland Hundred and M Club grill burgers and hot dogs for the fans and team after practice. The players really enjoyed the food and it was a nice touch for the end of the first week of spring practice.

The Tigers will be back on the field Tuesday afternoon, and are also scheduled to practice Thursday and Saturday next week. The next chance for fans to see the progress that the Tigers are making will be at the Blue-Gray Game on April 16. The game is set for 1 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

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