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.
Fourth-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
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
Illinois State University]