Aug. 6, 2011
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – After spending the first two days of fall camp in the classroom due to scheduling conflicts, freshman wide receiver Charles Lovett gave a glimpse of his tremendous abilities in his first practice as a Ram Saturday.
Lovett made the most of his opportunities and proved that his 5-foot-8 frame comes fully equipped with soft hands and blazing speed. It only took Head Coach Steve Fairchild one practice to confirm what type of talent he has in Lovett, not to mention fellow true freshman Lee Clubb.
“I’ve seen a couple true freshmen that look like, if they continue to learn the offense, which is a difficult thing to do, but if they can do it, if Lovett and Clubb can line up right, they’re going to play some snaps for us,” said Fairchild.
If that turns out to be the case for Lovett, a graduate of Tampa’s Hillsborough High School, which has produced baseball players Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield, he may have to invest in a large bottle of vinegar. Lovett has unique ritual of drinking a glass of vinegar before each game to help with muscle cramps.
Lovett was not the only receiver that had a good practice as Marquise Law and Thomas Coffman also turned in impressive efforts. Coffman’s speed has stuck out in each practice thus far, and Saturday he once again got behind the defense on a few deep passes. Fairchild is impressed by Coffman’s deep-threat ability.
“Obviously, Thomas Coffman with his speed brings a little bit of that,” said Fairchild. “It’s an area, like the safety position on defense, the receiver area on offense, we’ve got to come on in a hurry and get where we need to be, but I like what I see so far.”
Law looks like he may be one of the most improved players on the team. Saturday, Law made multiple catches, including an over-the-shoulder reception, near the sideline with a defender in his face, a ball perfectly placed by Pete Thomas.
Saturday was the first session in which players practiced in shoulder pads and helmets, which seemed to ignite the first scuffle of fall. After defensive back Momo Thomas put a big hit on Coffman, Coffman got right back up and the two players got after it. Of course, the offense came to Coffman’s side and the defense to Thomas’.
After practice, players and coaches mingled with fans that came out for Meet the Rams Day. Players took pictures with kids and signed autographs on posters that were provided by the CSU Athletic Department.
Big plays: Running back Chris Nwoke came out of the backfield on his pass route with a defender step-for-step with him. When Nwoke looked back, he saw the ball approaching and made a very athletic move to side step the defender, while controlling his body to come down with the catch. Nwoke looked more like a veteran wide receiver than a running back…Defensively, Momo Thomas came down with an interception during one-on-one drills that pit a wide receiver against a defensive back.
Hit of the day: There were multiple hits, even though the team didn’t partake in any “live” periods. Momo Thomas had a few big hits, with his largest coming on Crockett Gillmore. Gillmore came across the middle and was met abruptly by Thomas, but held onto the ball…Austin Gillmore, Crockett’s older brother, laid a significant thud on Coffman during a 7-on-7 period of practice. Knowing the players were not allowed to take each other to the ground, Gillmore wrapped up Coffman during the hit and supported his body weight.
So Blu: After recently switching from safety to cornerback, senior Elijah-Blu Smith seems to be a natural at the position. Smith had several pass breakups during practice. Smith was originally a cornerback when he arrived at CSU but injuries provided him a chance to play at safety.
Hang time: Punter Pete Kontodiakos showed off his ever-improving punting skills Saturday. During a special teams portion of practice, Kontodiakos consistently boomed punts far and high into the air. He averaged 52 yards per punt, with nearly an estimated 6 seconds of average hang time. He had a long of 59 yards.
Coach Kawulok: It’s important to try to always find a silver lining in bad situations. That’s exactly what senior linebacker Michael Kawulok has done after sustaining a knee injury during spring ball. The injury sidelined him for his true senior season, and the former grayshirt will use a redshirt year in 2011 before returning as a redshirt senior in 2012. Now, the former starting middle linebacker is essentially another coach out on the field for the Rams, working with young players such as Shaquil Barrett.
Similar situation: Brent Williams combined for 29 sacks during his junior and senior seasons at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. Standing at a lean 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Williams is scheduled to be a defensive end for the Rams. There have been whispers that Williams may not be bulky enough to play defensive line at that weight at the collegiate level. However, Williams does not have to look far to find a player who went through a similar situation. Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter heard those same whispers when he arrived in Fort Collins. Porter weighed less than 200 pounds when he signed with the Rams in the 1990s, and was moved around from position to position, playing running back, slot wide receiver and safety, until finally landing on the defensive line during his senior season. Williams attended his first practice Saturday and is expected to join the team at some point this month.
More Fairchild quotes from practice…
On Saturday’s practice, the first in shoulder pads:
“I thought we had a real slow start this morning, and that does concern me. It got going pretty good there, and we got a lot of work done, but obviously it wasn’t quite as clean once you put the pads on. I thought it was a good practice, just a little flat early on. You’ve got to learn how to go, with a Saturday morning game schedule (like CU, 11:30 a.m. kickoff).”
On RB Derek Good, whether he can be someone that sneaks up on people:
“Yeah, he is. He walked on and sometimes I think we had that walk-on label on him, but every time we asked him to do something, he did it as good as anybody. We’ve since put him on scholarship; he’s earned it. Derek’s a talented back. He’s done well not just as a back but also in the return game, every time we’ve asked him to do something. I’d expect as a senior that he’s going to have a big year for us.” On whether his breakout game last season was at Air Force: “Yeah, it was. And then he got to play a little bit as a back. And, not just in the return game, I thought he looked good. He’s going to play football for us this year.”
On Good’s strengths:
“I think he’s got good vision, good in-line cutting; it’s hard to get a solid shot on him. He’s faster than you think. He’s smart, so when it comes to the other parts of the game, the protection, those types of things, he does the right thing. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s brings a lot to the table.”
On true freshmen using special teams as an opportunity to play, and Fairchild stressing that to players from Day 1:
“Larry Lewis has to work with us all (coaches), because there are 64 guys that are going to get on a plane Sept. 2, so we need to start knowing, who’s that look like it’s going to be? Sometimes you assume that if a guy’s a true freshman then he’s going to redshirt. I’m not sure that’s the case at the receiver spot."
On using special teams to get on that plane:
“No doubt. Your ability, if you’re a backup linebacker, there’s a chance you might not play very many snaps in a game, but if you go out and, 16-18 special-teams snaps, you go out and help us, that’s the guy we want to travel, the guy we want in pads.
“I used to tell those running backs in the NFL, we’re going to keep five of you, and I’m going to pick two, the starting ball-carrier and the starting fullback. That (coach) over there on special teams, he’s going to decide who the next couple backs are, the next couple fullbacks are, because those snaps are valuable.”
On picking up the speed of the game through special teams, despite limited reps on offense/defense:
“It’s real valuable. It’s how you help the team, how you gain experience. You may not be playing a lot as a safety, but 16-18 snaps on special teams is a nice Saturday afternoon.”
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