There have been big battles at some important positions this camp and although Coach Joker Phillips didn’t show all of his cards on Monday, he did start to confirm what some of his position coaches have been hinting at during the past month.
Here is the run down of what we learned Monday:
- A couple of freshmen wide receivers have worked their way up from third string to at least second string as well as a couple of players on the defensive side of the ball. Phillips also expects that the offensive and defensive lines will get some added depth from a freshman or two. But the coach was mum on exactly who. “Names?” he asked. “We’re not going to talk about them until they play. As a group, it’s a very talented group.”
- On the running back front, Raymond Sanders is still the guy (please see Tuesday’s Herald-Leader for more in-depth coverage) with one of the freshmen (presumably Josh Clemons based on the chatter around camp) moving into a backup role. Phillips also named CoShik Williams by name. The coach did say that the RB position has a ton of depth and that five or six will see significant game action this season, many of them on special teams. “There’s not one back that’s head and shoulders above the rest of them,” he said.
- The tight end spot is still jumbled up day to day, but Jordan Aumiller seems to have worked his way to the top of the depth chart, or at least Phillips seemed to indicate that. “Jordan Aumiller has been as consistent a player as anybody we’ve had — not just at the tight end position, but on the football team,” the coach said. “After him, Tyler Robinson’s been out and the rest have been hit or miss. (Nick) Melillo has made has way to the second team today. … After Jordan, every other day someone moves up and someone moves down.”
- As we reported last week, senior CB Randall Burden is the new punt returner and that Gene McCaskill could be in the mix. No names were given for kickoff duties vacated by Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke, but Phillips did say a freshman has been impressive.
- All but one of the offensive line starters are back in the huddle with the exception of Stuart Hines, who has a sprained left knee. Matt Smith, Chandler Burden and Larry Warford all practiced Monday. “I know Morgan (Newton) likes to see those big guys back out there,” Phillips said of his junior quarterback.