The Bears held their first session in pads of spring practice on Tuesday and coach Jeff Tedford was pleased.
“Everything was good. We got a chance to get after it a bit,” he said. “Guys were flying around. We did a good job of that.”
The practice was closed to the media, but Tedford said there was sufficient hitting for the first day in pads.
“We didn’t take the backs to the ground a lot, but everybody else is playing football pretty live.” he said.
— Position change: Redshirt freshman defensive back Joel Willis of Garden Grove has been moved to wide receiver. The Bears’ receiver corps is thin right now, but this isn’t merely a spring experiement. The move is permanent, Tedford said.
“I think that’s going to be a great addition for us — he’s able to run and make plays and has a lot of athleticism. That’s a good fit for him,” Tedford said of the 5-foot-10, 188-pounder.
“He’s been kind of chomping at the bit to play receiver, anyway. That’s a real natural fit. He was really more of an offensive guy in high school.”
Willis was listed as the nation’s No. 53 “athlete” prospect out of Pacifica High in 2010. He had 90 tackles on defense, but also averaged more than 22 yards on 40 pass receptions, rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns and scored three TDs on kickoff or punt returns.
— Tuesday absences: Quarterback Zach Maynard was among five or six players who skipped the practice to attend to academic responsibilities, Tedford said. Maynard also missed last Saturday’s workout to be at a study group. Among the others absent was defensive end Mustafa Jalil, a projected starter.
— New on the sidelines: Tedford said new assistant coaches Wes Chandler (receivers) and Todd Howard (defensive line) are fitting in nicely.
“Obviously, Wes is learning the offense and learning the players and building relationships there. And Todd the same thing,” Tedford said. “I can tell by watching the drills that (the players) are receptive to what’s going on. It’s nice to have some new drills at the receiver position.
“You can tell by the way that the defensive line is playing that Todd is really doing a nice job, and they’re responding to him with their energy and their excitement and the things that they’re doing.”
The Bears will practice Thursday, then take next week off for spring break before returning for their final 11 spring workouts.