Practice began a little bit earlier then the scheduled 3:30 p.m. start time due to some nasty looking clouds that were hovering over FIU Stadium. Players started their warm ups around 2:40 Wednesday, but practice was cut short when the lightning alarms sounded. The coaches took the players off the field and under the bleachers for cover. For obvious reasons, the players and coaches have to clear the field for at least 30 minutes when an alarm sounds.
Practice continued under the bleachers for nearly an hour until the all clear was given. The Panthers briefly made it back to the field when a second lightning alarm sent the team back under the bleachers. It looked like practice would be cancelled but the weather cleared enough for a short hour-long practice after the delay. Due to the shortened day, practice will started tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. at FIU Stadium (Practice is not open to the public.)
News and notes from day 1
Panthers coach Mario Cirstobal (right) feels the team injury wise is starting fall camp "pretty good."
Senior offensive lineman James Wiggins is recovering from offseason surgery.
Senior offensive lineman Kevin Van Kirk has healed well from knee surgery and was not limited in practice.
Sophomore line backer Larvez "Pooh Bear" Mars participated in practice and was not limited.
I need to double check the Pooh Bear item, I was almost positive I saw him out on the field but I might be wrong.
Checked up on Pooh Bear this morning, seems he did in fact miss yesterday's practice. No word yet on why Pooh has been out. Both Pooh Bear and Richard Leonard are sharing number #3 on defense.
"There are some guys that are nicked up that we'll have to ease back into camp but I don't see anything really holding anybody back for more than a week or two," Cristobal said.
Incoming freshmen class
"They're talented. Even today, we went two groups at a time just to get double the reps to make sure we get on film and can identify the guys that currently possess the skill set, the body and the maturity to compete right now," Cristobal said. "We feel very good about the majority of the class being able to contribute right now. Tomorrow again we'll really crank it up on them."
One guy who stood out to me was former Northwestern receiver Dominique Rhymes (left, preparing to catch a pass against Central at FIU Stadium). Rhymes is a big kid - listed at 6-4 on the roster - that can move quick down field. Rhymes is stepping into big shoes, wearing Greg Ellingson's #82.
I spoke with offensive line coach Alex Mirabal for a little while this afternoon. The Panthers have two spots to fill up front with the departures of center Brad Serini and left guard Cedric Mack.
Mirabal expects RT Rupert Bryan Jr., LT Caylin Hauptmann left tackle, RG Curtis Bryant to start.
"Our left guard and our center spots are the two spots that are open," Mirabal said. "A lot of people forget that Kevin Van Kirk (right, #67) was really our starting left guard prior to him getting injured. That opened the door for Cedric Mack to come in. I really believe we have a chance to be more athletic at both spots and nastier."
About Van Kirk, Mirabal spoke highly about his potential.
"We got great news yesterday when [Van Kirk] was granted that extra year of eligibility," Mirabal said. "He's the toughness of the group. He's a true leader. He's not afraid to tell these guys what they need to hear and not what they want to hear."
During spring practice, Giancarlo Revilla and Ceedrick Davis split time at center.
Junior college transfer Shae Smith, a junior, could also see some playing time along the line.
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