Thursday wasn’t the best day to get information out of spring practice. First, practice ended a half hour early, meaning some of us with meticulously planned schedules may have not been there for all of the media access portion at the end of practice (thankfully, I still saw most of it). Then coach Jeff Tedford somehow escaped as practice broke up and didn’t do his usual availability with the assembled press corps.
I can tell you that it looks as though defensive end DeAndre Coleman is back practicing again after spending the past couple of weeks using practice as a study hall (under the orders of Tedford; cornerback Darian Hagan is still studying during practice). Fellow defensive end Trevor Guyton sat out practice Thursday, but without talking to Tedford, I don’t know the nature of his injury. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz continues to sit out with tightness in his back.
The highlight of the action I did see at the end of practice was a terrific catch by running back Shane Vereen on a short touchdown pass from Beau Sweeney. Vereen was manhandled by linebacker Jarred Price as he ran his route – Price may have set a record for most pass interference infractions on one play – and Vereen still somehow managed to haul the pass in despite having Price apparently attempting to give him a bear hug.
I talked to redshirt freshman cornerback Steve Williams after practice. Williams was highly recruited out of Skyline High School in Dallas and has a good chance to get significant playing time this season. With Syd’Quan Thompson gone and the other corner spot basically unoccupied, competition is wide open.
“I feel pretty good,” Williams said. “All of us are just battling. It’s been fun. I feel like I have a chance to play. Right now, it’s looking pretty solid.”
Defensive backs coach Al Simmons called Williams “the fastest corner I’ve ever coached.” Simmons is entering his 25th year of coaching, with stints in both college and the NFL.
“He’s doing really well,” Simmons said. “He’s really coming along. He’s getting better all the time, getting smarter, getting a better feel for the offensive guys, understanding the formations and plays. And he’s working hard. He’s having fun. It’s not a grind for him. He’s been a joy.”
Simmons said he still is counting on Hagan to factor significantly into the competition at corner, even though he’s missing valuable time this spring. Simmons said Hagan has shown an increased maturity since the end of last season.
“You have to be concerned because of the situation he’s in, but he’s still showing some maturity because he’s handling it well,” Simmons said. “He’s been really a positive person every day.”