College football coaches will tell you that spring practice is the time when they look for players that can play at his level. Coach Brooks has to be smiling when he reflects over this spring's finds. There are always the usual suspects, but there are the unusual suspects that ultimately light up a program.
Without a doubt, on the offensive side of the ball the biggest find was Eric Scott, who can play any of the positions on the interior line and has the center spot nailed down. I wouldn't hazard to portend into the future for the coaches but given Scott's tight end background, how about the tackle eligible play. Scott is a hard worker whose body has gone through a metamorphosis at 292-pounds, Brooks says will be at around 300-pounds by fall. Brooks say Scott will be an outstanding player for not only him but in the SEC.
Another player that has emerged as a big find is walk-on Marcus Davis, who stepped up when Scott missed a couple practices. Davis seized the opportunity to step up and establish himself as a player at center that can play in this league. He as well as Scott can play center or guard. Davis has grown to a respectable 6-foot-2, 290-pounds.
With so many players out of the offensive line for the spring, Walk-on Michael Williams 6-foot-6, 300-pounds got a ton of reps at a guard spot. Brooks said he and Davis would push for playing time in the fall.
Zipp Duncan, who was switched from tight end to the offensive guard, needs to get more rocks in his pockets. Once he does, he showed that he could be an excellent lineman in the future. Brooks had several positive comments about him throughout spring practice.
Notice that all of the offensive players mentioned are offensive linemen and for the spring to deemed success offensively that had to happen given the fact the some of the missing linemen were expected to be big factors in the line.
"We got to continue to create and attitude of not letting anybody score against us," defensive coordinator Steve Brown adamantly expressed. Now let's explore the finds on the defensive side of the ball.
Lets start with the headliner of finds, that being linebacker Sam Maxwell. Rich Brooks said, "Maxwell is having a very, very good spring and no question he's going to push for a starting job." Everywhere the ball is on the field, Maxwell always seems to show up and in an ugly mood.
The linebacker corps took a couple of hits due to season ending injuries but walk-on A.J. Nance stepped up a caught the eye of the coaching staff. Nance established himself as one of the best special team players on the team. Nance was convinced to walk-on at UK by high school teammate in Tennessee, kicker Lones Seiber. Brooks said, "A.J. is doing some good things." He played in the spring game as a starter at the will linebacker and had some big hits. He obviously loves to hit because if you remember, he had a big hit on a Tennessee kick return man that caused a scary stoppage in play.
The next huge find was defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin 6-foot-4, 290-pounds. "He still a young guy," said Coach Rick Petrie about the fact that Lumpkin is only 18-years old. "He keeps growing and growing and growing and is ultimately going to be a big man. He is strong at the point of attack."
These are the obvious unusual suspects discovered in spring practice and upon reviewing the film the will likely find more. More will be explored about defensive coordinator Steve Brown's body snatchers in future articles.
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