CAASports.com plans to follow the 2007 spring action which leads up the to the inaugural CAA Football season. Various student-athletes will be contributing to the CAASports.com Football Blog throughout the spring season. Log on each Wednesday beginning March 28 to get a behind-the-scenes look at what CAA Football student-athletes are doing leading up to and during their spring practice seasons.
Mark Stolte – Rhode Island
Spring football has officially been concluded at the University of Rhode Island. I really think that this spring we have gotten many things accomplished that will help us tremendously next season.
The defense has really improved on their overall speed as well as the pass rush (being an offensive lineman, I can really see that). We have a solid core of defensive lineman and secondary, and with the addition of Steve Marella, who missed spring due to an injury, we should be pretty deep as well at the linebacker position.
On offense this spring, we missed having Joe Casey at fullback, but it allowed us to see how much depth we have at the position with newcomers like Anthony Ferrer and Drew O'Connell playing well. We have also spent a majority of the spring adapting a shotgun package into our play calling.
The Blue & White Game this past Saturday was a culmination of all of the hard work that we have done throughout the spring. It was a great day for football and there was a good crowd on hand. The annual game is always one of my favorite events because it brings the Rhode Island Football family together to celebrate a successful spring.
During the actual scrimmage, the thing that shocked me most was how much we were passing the ball. I could tell that all those spring football practices spent pass blocking and running pass routes really paid off.
If we can carry over these skills that we have spent the last five weeks practicing to next season, I think it will really open up a lot of weapons on offense. On defense, if we can get just a little bit stronger this off-season, we should have a pretty solid lineup.
Now that all has been said and done, the next step to prepare for next season is working hard in the weight room this summer. We can not afford to miss any opportunities to get better in the off-season.
Being a senior, it is hard to face that fact that this is my last chance to go out there and play football for one more season. All that is on my mind is going out on a good note. A great coach once asked "How do you want to be remembered?" I want to be remembered as a winner.
Rob Zarrilli – Hofstra
Well, spring football came to an end today (April 30) two days after our spring game. We had the annual Blue vs. Gold spring game on Saturday. It was a good game, and several players made improvements and impressed the coaching staff. The final score was 20-12, as the offense defeated the defense by eight points. But there were at least seven players, who were returning to starting roles or penciled in as starters, who were sidelined with injuries. The coaches continue to praise the younger players that have stepped into starting roles.
The score is not usually important, in an offense vs. defense match up. The important thing is that both sides of the ball get comfortable playing with each other in a game like atmosphere. Other players have also improved this spring. It is also very important that the team is able to get through the game without any injuries, and we were able to do that.
This spring has been very productive. We have grown together as a team, and became much tougher. Spring ball is all about getting better, and competing. Several players have competed and made a name for themselves coming into next season. During the summer we will use the time to get stronger in the weight room, and prepare our bodies for next season. Some people do not realize that football is a year round sport. The season is only three months, but the preparation is everyday. We need to build on all that we have gained during this spring. We also need to start fall practice where we have left off in the spring. By doing all of the little things necessary, we will give ourselves the best chance to reach our goals for the upcoming season.
My practice as a kicker, obviously, is not the same as the other players on the team. I get to practice about twenty minutes before everyone and stretch out. We have a “specialist” period at the beginning of practice. During these five minutes I get to kick with my snapper and holder and get warmed up. After this, the entire team goes right to a stretch period. We warm up and stretch as a team before all of the hitting and drills begin. Right after stretch, everyone goes to there drills and position coaches to begin practice. My special teams coach will tell me when I need to be ready to kick. We kick field goals every day, and we usually do a kickoff period at least once a week. I use the time after stretch to get ready to kick off and kick field goals. I have several drills that I work on to get my accuracy and distance better. These drills will take up about forty minutes of practice. My practice is different then any other players. My hard work and sweat comes in the off season, but on the field during practice I work on my kicking mechanics and just try to focus on kicking the same ball every time. I believe that I got better this spring, but I also think that I need to improve a lot more over the summer to get where I want to be.
Jason Hatchell – Massachusetts
Our focus in the past week has been on the Spring Game. Everyone, including me, is real excited for it. It is our last time on the field for the spring and will be a huge test for the players to see how everyone, especially the new guys, is playing. The game is at Noon and hopefully we'll get a nice crowd for it. It'll be cool to see what everyone has to show on the field.
Practice last week has been going real well. We are on our 13th or 14th practice now and it's been real fun watching all the guys, including myself, step up and progress through spring ball. We're learning new concepts that have been put in.
I paid close attention to the NFL Draft this past weekend and I'm real happy for Alex Miller, David Thompson, Brandon London, James Ihedigbo and Steve Baylark because they're all getting their shot now at the NFL. I was hoping one of them would have been taken in the later rounds, but it is still a great opportunity for them to live out their dreams. I know that they will all capitalize on the chance and I wish them well.
Our scrimmage last Saturday went real well. It was the first time we had officials on the field for our scrimmage. We got to seem some calls and got to argue with them a little bit. Overall it went real well. We were full-out live-hitting which is always good. We got to seem some big hits.
This time of year has been hectic for me because I'm finishing up my major. I'll still have credits to complete next year and I'm going to do an internship but I get to walk at the graduation ceremony on May 26, which is pretty exciting for any college student. It's been a real challenging four years but I'm proud to be graduating with my sport management degree, which is a real prestigious major here at UMass. But it's been tough recently. We've had football meetings on top of studying for exams and working on papers. For instance, Wednesday night I was up until Midnight studying, then took a mid-term exam this morning and have practice later. It's definitely tough to balance, but it's part of being an athlete.
It's off to practice for me now, but next week I'll be sure to give an update on the Spring Game. If you have some free time, come down to McGuirk Stadium at Noon on Saturday to watch the game. Hope to see you there!
Brian Bradford – Towson
As the last practices of the Spring Ball wind down leading into our Spring Game, we are excited to get ready for the summer.
As one of the seniors, we are looking forward to making the most of our last college season and probably the last days of our football-playing careers.
Our offense has been turning on the heat over the last few practices. The offense looks very solid all around and the offensive guys are trying to take that momentum from the last few practices into the Spring Game.
With our constant rotations, our defense has not looked as sharp recently. But we are looking forward to Saturday as we try to bring our “A Game” like we know we can.
Spring Ball has been great. Since it’s my last one, it seems like it went by faster than all the others. But, in the end, it’s been a great experience.
The Towson University football team is almost where we want to be. But we still need to work hard this last week and learn as much as we can.
We need to prepare for our pre-season 2-a-days which will be here before anyone can imagine.