By: Joe Nelson
Quarterbacks: MarQueis Gray led the first team offense while Tom Parish worked with thesecond team. The other quarterbacks (Moses Alipate, Adam Lueck, and Max Shortell) worked on the side fields while two tight end sets were drilled between the first two teams. Shortell, a true freshman from Kansas, definitely passed the eye test. He looked good throwing the ball and his size was impressive (6'6'', 21b lbs).
Running Backs: Duane Bennett continues to look strong and fast and fully recovered from a torn ACL that cost him most of his 2009 season. Taking second team reps was redshirt freshman Lamonte Edwards. The FAN's Justin Conzemius once compared Edwards to a "young Adrian Peterson." Although the comment seems far-fetched, the young RB showed some flashes of speed and power. Edwards was dinged up during spring practice and didn't see a lot of action.
As a high school football reporter, I find it interesting to see what the new freshman from Minnesota look like, and nobody had as many new eyes on them as Tommy Olson. The kid from Mahtomedi was the top in-state recruit, and he has a chance to play as a true freshman. He's an unbelievable talent and possesses the perfect size to play guard or center. His older brother, Ed, should be very good as the starting LT this year. It was interesting to see Tommy going through some drills as a center. While he's capable of playing the position, he didn't do very much of it in high school. Senior center Ryan Wynn missed practice with a medical issue, so it will be intriguing to find out if Tommy can fill the void while he's gone.
Physical freaks: it's always fun to see which players look like they can physically dominate in the Big Ten. Yesterday I wanted to take a look at a couple of players that have a chance to keep this defense competitive.
James Manuel: The safety is a man among boys in the secondary. He showed a ton of potential as a freshman in 2010. This year he looks like he's put in a ton of work, and it shows with his physical style of play.
Mike Rallis: He's going to be a starting weak-side linebacker. He was a machine at Edina and has battled back from more than his fair share of injuries. Most people believe he can have a an excellent junior season leading a corp of young LB's.
Ra'Shede Hageman: Everyone knows his name. He was highly recruited as a TE out of MInneapolis Washburn. But he's not a TE anymore. He made the transition last season to DE. Can he put combine his raw size and speed with an ability to play the position? That has yet to be seen, but the hopes are high.
First Team Defense - Day 1 - QB/RB/OL/TE
LT - Ed Olson
LG - Chris Bunders
C - Zach Epping
RG - Ryan Orton
RT - Jimmy Gjere
TE - Eric Lair
TE - John Rabe
RB - Duane Bennett
QB - MarQueis Gray
First Team Defense - Day 1 - DL/LB/S
LE - Matt Garin
DT - Anthony Jacobs
DT - Brandon Kirksey
RE - D.L. Wilhite
MLB - Gary Tinsley
WLB - Mike Rallis
SLB - Keanon Cooper
SS - James Manuel
FS - Kenny Watkins/Chrystin Lewis
Those lineups represent what I saw during some light contact two-tight end sets. No WR or CB were involved in those drills.