Quarterback Brock Berlin can enjoy the fact that he finally has some job security – for the time being.
At the football team’s first spring practice Tuesday at the Greentree Practice Fields, Head Coach Larry Coker said that Berlin was the starter, but if either Derrick Crudup, Kyle Wright, or Kirby Freeman have a spectacular spring, they could play their way into the main signal-calling role.
“The players know that I don’t care who the starters are,” Coker said. “All I want is the best players that can help the team win in key positions.”
Coker said that he was impressed with all four quarterbacks and already sees improvements in Berlin’s leadership abilities.
“Brock wants to be the leader of this football team,” Coker said. “He looks extremely confident out there and is really trying to get better and make the team better.”
If Berlin slips up this spring, Wright, a red-shirt freshman, could emerge as the starter. The 6’5″ quarterback from Danville, Calif. has put on 15 pounds and attracted a crowd of local reporters as he was leaving the practice field.
Wright said that his main goals are to continually improve and enjoy working with his teammates.
“I can’t control what my role is going to be this year,” he said. “That is up to the coaches. I just want to try to make the offense better when I am out there. Not playing will just give me more incentive to work harder.”
With Tyrone Moss recovering from an illness, Quad Hill got a chance to work as a tailback with the first team.
“Quad got a long look today, but you have to keep in mind that Tyrone was sick,” Coker said. “We are trying to develop leaders on the team.”
Coker said that some of the older players on the team, like Orien Harris, Chris Myers, and Antrel Rolle, have shown poise and maturity during the off-season.
Junior defensive end Javon Nanton impressed the coaching staff with his growing confidence and athleticism. Nanton was used as a situational pass rusher last season, and could have a chance to start in the fall.
The most cohesive unit on the squad may be the offensive line, which was criticized last year for allowing Berlin to be pressured too quickly. Junior Eric Winston said that the group is much improved and very close-knit.
“We are definitely getting stronger as a unit,” Winston said. “We have our nucleus returning with Joel [Rodriguez], Chris [Myers] and myself, and we are trying to spend a lot of time with the younger linemen to make them feel like a part of the group.”
Coker was quick to remind everyone that it is difficult to make any judgments at the beginning of spring practice.
“It’s hard to tell anything when the players aren’t in pads yet,” Coker said. “These guys realize that we are not a good football team yet, and we have a long way to go before we become one.”
Notes from Tuesday’s practice: Former Hurricane great Bernie Kosar was in attendance, giving advice to Berlin and the other quarterbacks…Draft hopefuls Kellen Winslow, Maurice Sikes, Kevin Beard, Jason Geathers, and Al Marshall all stopped by. Sikes was wearing a Merton Hanks San Francisco 49ers jersey and brought his puppy with him…Despite windy conditions, all four quarterbacks looked strong in the accuracy drill…There were no injuries reported after practice.