Tigers Have Spirited First Day Of Practice
March 16, 2011
MEMPHIS, TENN. - The Tiger Football team opened spring practice Wednesday afternoon at the Murphy Athletic Complex. The squad is allowed 15-practice sessions, which will conclude with the Blue-Gray Game on April 16 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers utilized the turf field, and about 50 fans came out to view practice as Coach Larry Porter has opened the first three practices to the public. The squad will practice at 3:30 on Thursday and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The team practiced for about two hours in helmets and shorts today. "We had a good, spirited practice today and I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of our guys and their level of excitement about being out there on the field," said Porter after practice.
Several players are working on making position transitions this spring, including D'Angelo McCray and Jimmy Robinson, who have moved from the defensive line to the offensive line, and former quarterback Cannon Smith, who is now working with the secondary. Senior Tommy Walker is back with the defensive line, a position he worked as a true freshman, after having spent the last two seasons with the offensive line.
In addition to individual drills and special teams work, the team worked through some game situation plays, as quarterbacks Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist took snaps from Al Bond. The Tigers will need to replace two-year starter Brad Paul, who was a senior in 2010. Bond is a local lineman out of Southwind High, who redshirted behind a host of veteran linemen last year. Summerlin, who was taking his first snaps since late last fall when he was cleared to throw, had a solid day. A junior college transfer, Summerlin missed the 2010 season after suffering a shoulder injury, which required surgery, during last spring. He has worked tirelessly with the athletic training staff to get back on the field primed to compete this spring. Gilchrist was described earlier this spring by coach Porter as a "company guy, who is always going to put himself in position to add to the depth at the QB position." Gilchrist signed with the Tigers in 2009, and took snaps along-side Summerlin today. Walk-on Jeff Tompkins was also working at quarterback today. Tompkins joined the squad last fall as a walk-on out of Southwind High.
"Andy is on course to return back to the level that he is capable of and we are excited about that," said Porter. "He has to get his arm in throwing shape overall, but I think he is well on his way just looking at him. The good thing about this offense is there are so many things that you can get to and that is what we are going to do. We are going to have to do it a little bit faster than we had planned, but we are going to be just fine. We will get to the exciting part of the offense, just a tad bit sooner."
Porter also spoke about the defense briefly and how he is encouraged by the effort he saw at practice today.
"They were seeing things faster, they were reacting faster," explained Porter. "I saw much more discipline with their eyes, their feet and their hands, which is something that we wanted to stress throughout the spring. So, from that aspect, I think today was a good, solid day for our defense."
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