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Spring practice report: Day 2

So what did we learn after Day 2 of spring football? Today, assistant coaches spoke for the first time since the start of the spring. I got to speak with defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, special teams coach Joe Pannunzio, receiver Kayne Farquharson, defensive ends Adewale Ojomo and Eric Moncur, center Xavier Shannon, safety Anthony Reddick and kicker Matt Bosher (audio will be posted later tonight and I'll provide links). Here's a quick rundown of notes I collected...

McGRIFF TALKS SECONDARY: With his two best corners -- Bruce Johnson and DeMarcus Van Dyke -- Wesley_mcgriff participating in track season, defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff said he's been experimenting with putting a few of his safeties at corner early this spring the way he did with Kenny Phillips last season. McGriff said he has Anthony Reddick and Randy Phillips (a former corner) "working on the edges" in case of emergency situations. As for a depth chart, senior Lovon Ponder and Phillips are with the first team at safety with Reddick and sophomore Jojo Nicholas on the second team and sophomores Jared Campbell and Damien Berry as the next in line.

McGriff said there is no question Chavez Grant -- once locked into the nickel position -- will see more time on the outside next season. "He’s what I call the ultimate utility player," McGriff said. "He’ll play nick and corner. You’ll see his playing time increase at corner."

As for the young guys -- Berry, Nicholas and Campbell, McGriff said: "All of them have gotten better. Joe Nicholas got a lot more confidence in making the calls. He’s not that timid freshman anymore. He’s comfortable with the position. Damien Berry is still doing wonderful for us on special teams. He’s a guy that can play corner and safety. I’m going to play him at two positions. He just flies around. Jared Campbell -- he’s done a tremendous job in meetings taking those things and regurgitating them. The main thing is to get them in pads and see how they respond when the bullets fly. They’ve all gotten better in their own ways. But let’s see how they comes along with those pads on."

STOUTLAND BREAKS DOWN THE LINE: UM offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland Jeff_stoutlandsaid he's been pleased with the way his lineman have either gained weight or lost it in preparation for the spring. "Jason Fox, he’s gained some good weight, not sloppy weight. Guys are going to have a hard time running him over now," Stoutland said. "Chris Barney has take a lot of weight off. It’s gone both ways. Some guys have put some good weight on. Some guys have taken some sloppy weight off. I think all in all, they look better physically. Now, its just a matter of putting it all together on the field and learning the system."

Stoutland, who used a rotation of Fox, Reggie Youngblood and Chris Rutledge at tackle last season, said senior Tyrone Byrd has now entered the mix. "Inside is where we have the most change and where we have to be very creative in the springtime," Stoutland said. "I’ve moved A.J. Trump out to left guard. We need to get solid depth there now. Orlando is obviously not involved right now, but he will be. Chris Barney is doing a much better job than he was before. Then we have at the right side, we have Joel Figueroa and Harland Gunn. Harland Gunn is doing a very nice job. He’s very impressive."

"We got to find a center and that’s between Matt Pipho, Xavier Shannon and Tyler Horne," Stoutland said. "They’re all about the same in speed of the snap. It comes down who can move laterally and move fast off the ball and move down the line. So, you got to make a lot of calls up front and make calls."

When asked if Shannon, who made 27 consecutive starts while at FIU might have an advantage, Stoutland said: "He’s got a lot of starts under his belt. To me its important to be in live in games. There is no substitution for being a starter in live games."

CALAIS TALKS DRAFT: Before the start of practice, I bumped into former Canes defensive end 022708_calais_2Calais Campbell, who was working out with a bunch of other former Canes and preparing for Friday morning's NFL Pro Timing Day at The U. Campbell said he was disappointed with his 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine in Indianapolis Monday, but still pleased with the athleticism he showed. He said also felt he did a great job during the interview process. He admitted to both me and Herald Sports Writer Susan Miller Degnan his decision to leave The U early was not easy. He said he wavered throughout the process, but ultimately decided he wanted to leave because he had already graduated and it was best for him to leave.

PHOTOS: I took some more pictures today before practice got started. I'll add the captions later... (#16) Quarterback Cannon Smith plays catch during practice early... (#4) Aldarius Johnson stretches with (#5) Javarris James... running backs coach Tommie Robinson shows (#43) John Calhoun what he wants him to do on blocks... (#4) Johnson hauls in a pass while catches balls from the juggs machine... (#9) Quarterback Robert Marve warms up before practice... (#9) Marve throws the heavy ball with offensive coordinator Patrick Nix before practice begins... UM's secondary warms up before practice (from left, Anthony Reddick, Jojo Nicholas, Carlos Armour, Jared Campbell and Randy Phillips)... (#5) Javarris James gives new fullback Patrick Hill (#30) some words of encouragement... new receivers coach Aubrey Hill talks with Jermaine McKenzie (#15) and Aldarius Johnson (#4) during the juggs catching drill... (#84) Tight end Richard Gordon plays catch with Dedrick Epps.
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