Football: Second-year running backs begin spring push for spot in Bears’ 2012 rotation

I took in a freezing mid-day football spring practice session at Witter Field today and talked afterward with second-year running backs Brendan Bigelow, Darren Ervin and Daniel Lasco.

Here’s my story on their pursuit of a spot in the 2012 rotation — and perhaps a head start on the chase for the 2013 starting job.

Also from Saturday’s practice . . .

   — More from coach Jeff Tedford on the young tailbacks: “As soon as we can get the pads on, it’s going to be critical we put those guys in game-type situations, especially Bigelow because he didn’t have a lot of that last year from the backfield. Ervin missed a lot of the year with injuries as well. Lasco did a great job on scout team. I think they’re all really good players. There’s going tobe a role for all of them if they continue to improve.”

   — Tedford on starting tailback Isi Sofele and backup C.J. Anderson: “(Isi) hit the hole and popped a couple. He’s quick. The experience he gained last year, the way he hits the hole this year is night and day. Early in the year last year and through camp, he’d see that hole and want to get there and stumble through it. Now he hits it. He’s much more experienced. . . . C.J. looks great — he’s lost some weight. With Isi and C.J. and those other three, we’re going to have some depth at that position.”

   — Starting quarterback Zach Maynard skipped the workout to attend a study group for a class. Tedford downplayed it, saying it’s not uncommon with players and could happen again. Junior Allan Bridgford took reps with the first team.

   — Tedford on Bridgford: “He’s healthy. Coming in last year he was still nursing a bad shoulder from his surgery. He’s very smart and understands the offense very well. Throws the ball well, has great command. He’s doing a great job.”

   — It’s by no means certain, Tedford said, that a No. 3 QB will be named by the end of spring. But he stressed that unless something changes, Maynard and Bridgford are 1-2. “The quarterback situation last year we didn’t know who it was going to be,” he said. “Now we know we have two guys who can play.”

   — On what he liked on Day 2 spring workouts: “A lot of enthusiasm. A lot of really good things. The defensive line is playing really fast, doing a really good job. The running backs are doing well, some of the young offensive linemen are learning and doing well. They’re able to comprehend some of the things we’re doing.”

   — Tedford said he expects good things this spring from redshirt freshman WR Maurice Harris. “He’s got a long way to go, but we’re counting on him to improve and grow this spring, play fast. That’s going to be the key for him, to play fast,” Tedford said. “We know he can catch the football — he probably has the best hands on the team. Now he just needs to get some game experience. He’s getting a lot of reps, so that’s a good thing for him.”


Jeff Faraudo