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Blue Raiders Don Full Pads For First Time This Spring

April 1, 2004 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - For the first time this spring, the Middle Tennessee football team donned full pads in today's workout. It was the fourth of six straight practice days for the Blue Raiders.

"It's unusual to practice this many days in a row during the spring, but our guys have really responded," head coach Andy McCollum said. "It was a physical practice and we were able to see how some of the new guys responded. I was pleased with the workout and felt we truly won out there today. We got better."

Offensively, the Blue Raider receiving corps appears to be the most talented and deepest unit in the McCollum era with starters Kerry Wright, Pedro Holiday, Jerrin Holt and Chris Henry looking better than ever. Holiday, who has been impressive with his world-class speed, is playing with great confidence. Opposing teams will have to pay attention to the Rome, Ga., native, which will only help all-America candidate Wright.

Under center, junior Josh Harris and sophomore Clint Marks are still sharing the top spot on the depth chart. Both struggled the first couple of days in the rainy and windy weather, but have looked sharper the past two outings. Freshman Sam Hunt is close behind at No. 3 and Patrick Jackson is No. 4.

The biggest question mark on offense will be along the offensive line, especially at center. Willie Hall, Julius Gant, and Germayle Franklin will anchor this year's line, but finding a snapper will be the main priority. Juniors Kyle Turnbow and Kyle Ringley, along with redshirt freshman Ryan Hornsby are the favorites to earn the starting spot.

"I believe we are seeing progress with each day and that's what spring is about," McCollum said. "We have to make sure we are making improvements each day, and I see some of the progress we are striving to make on a consistent basis. It just has to continue."

Middle Tennessee's defensive unit, which is vastly experienced up front and in the middle, enjoyed a promising day of workouts in full pads Thursday. The unit had several players come up with big hits and get their hands on footballs, and the defensive line and linebackers were constantly harassing quarterbacks during team drills.

"We have some experience on the defensive side, particularly within our front seven, so we expect them to make plays and be difference-makers," McCollum said. "We have to be accountable on defense, and I believe you see a group of guys taking great pride in what they are doing this first week of spring."

The Middle Tennessee football team will conduct its first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at 10:30 a.m., on the practice field. The scrimmage is open to the public.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.