Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sports News

ISU Spring Camp Report 1:
Welcome back, 'Birds

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[March 28, 2012]  NORMAL -- The first day of Illinois State football spring practice felt a lot like the final game of the 2011 season, with seasonally warm temperatures and howling winds at Hancock Stadium. The wind could not blow away the enthusiasm of the Redbirds, however, who were glad to be back out on the turf for the first of 15 spring workouts.

HardwareFourth-year head coach Brock Spack set the tone early with a speech to the entire team in the south end zone. It was his chance to set the tone for the day and the rest of the spring and the message seemed to be received loud and clear.

"The wind did play tricks on us out there, but I reminded our players of the kick that UNI's kicker made into the wind to send the game into overtime in the season finale last year," Spack said. "No matter what the conditions are, we need to focus and make big plays like he did. Good teams fight through adversity and that is something I want this team to embrace very early. As with most first days, it was a bit rusty out there, but it's all about improvement and we look to get better when we come back out Thursday."

New and returning Redbirds alike had a lot of energy and enjoyed being back out on the field with their teammates and coaches. After the team stretching session, special teams work and individual drills, it was time for 7-on-7 work and the south end of the field. Unlike last season when the Redbirds took the field in the spring with just two healthy quarterbacks, this spring a quartet of passers took turns throwing to receivers, tight ends and backs.

Senior quarterback Matt Brown took the snaps with the first team and fought the wind gusts early, but rallied to finish the drill strong at 6-for-9. Brown found junior running back Cameron Meredith out of the backfield twice and also threw to running backs Jonathan Miller and Darrelynn Dunn. Brown also connected once each with Lechein Neblett and transfer Chick Chatham for nice gains.

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Cameron Meredith went 3-for-4 with a completion to Dunn and Justin Lane completed his only pass of the day to Chatham for a first down. Wyoming transfer Adam Pittser rounded out the group with a perfect 4-for-4 showing, with completions to four different receivers including Jordan Neukirch, Brian Athey, Scott Kuehn and Teddy Corwin.

The team session was up next and the new-look offensive line got its first chance to work against the veteran defensive front of the Redbirds. Oklahoma transfer Josh Aladenoye settled in well and looked solid in blocking Nate Palmer off the end and Pete Cary took control of the unit at center from the onset. Hunt and Dunn split the early carries and Brown connected twice with sophomore Donovan Harden early. Miller also showed his elusiveness, breaking a few long runs that were blown dead by the coaches.

That's when the defense took over, as sophomore Tevin Allen made several good breaks from his cornerback position and broke up three passes, including one that should have been an interception return for a touchdown if it weren't dropped. The defense also forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Tim Dawson and an interception by Colorado State transfer Ezra Thompson capped off the strong effort during the drill.

The Redbirds will return to the field Thursday, March 29, at 3:30 p.m. for the second workout of the spring season.

[Text copied from file received from Michael Williams, Illinois State University]

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