Can you sense it? Almost football time and I am already trying to mold my excuse for my boss tomorrow to jet out of work early and watch the first day of practice. I assume that Day 1 will be shorts and t-shirts, mostly in position groups and not a whole lot of team work but something about seeing the pigskin get thrown around brings a smile to my face. Plus, who wouldn't want to see a slender, explosive RB Darrell Scott or a potential playmaker in WR Markques Simas. So if anyone has any good excuses other than a 3:30 doctors appointment or picking up a family member from the airport, I am all ears.
Now, fast forward to April 25th, 6:00 pm. What do we hope to know about these five players at that time? Let's draw it up:
QB Tyler Hansen - his first offseason did wonders for him both on and off-the-field. Not only is he physically bigger but he seems to have a better grip on the offense. He has come a long way from the first day of practice last year, commanding the team like Cody Hawkins does and standing poised in the pocket. You have to love his athleticism. His play confirms that Buff fans should expect more from the quarterback position in 2009.
RB Darrell Scott - overweight? No more. Injured? Only the ankles of the defenders. Explosive back? Yes sir. A new year and a new back. This spring, Scott has given Buff fans a taste of what they have craved for a while now: a consistently explosive back who provides an instant home run threat every time he touches the ball. His desire to be successful is very visible and he is making a point to be the hardest working player on the field. An added bonus, Scott has begun to take on a leadership role, as he notices the bigger the player, the more of a leader you need to be. Clearly, this new offense is not only going to feature Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott toting the rock but also in the passing game, utilizing the open areas in the flats and putting more pressure on the linebackers, which was not the case in 2008.
WR Markques Simas - us fans have patiently waited for a wide receiver who can consistently turn an out route into a 65 yard touchdown. Seriously, the last five years the Buffs have been led in receiving by the following players: McKnight (twice), Geer, Judge and Mackey...doesn't exactly send fear into the eye of the Big 12 defensive backfields. Simas showed this spring that he can be the most elite wide out the Buffs have had the last half dozen years. He has had answered the call in the classroom, passing all of his classes. 583 is the most yards a wideout has had in the last five years, Simas' performance this spring leads us to believe that 583 would be a failure in 2009.
LB B.J. Beatty - I feel a fan favorite coming here. With his long red hair and free flowing defensive attack, Buff fans, we have found our replacement for Brad Jones. In a two point stance or three point stance, Beatty showed all spring that he has the ability to play in the offensive backfield at will. The difference between this year and last year is that Beatty is much more assignment oriented and understands how his game fits into the entire scheme of the defense. He has shown the ability to grasp his keys and has improved his play against the run. Beatty might just be the mean streak this defense has needed since Jordan Dizon left.
DB Jimmy Smith - do you hear that? It is the chatter of NFL scouts drooling over Jimmy Smith. No slow start this year, no wondering why he isn't starting. In this, his junior year, Smith came out in camp and demonstrated on Markques Simas that number one receivers are going to have a difficult day when he is on the field. Smith's size and ease of motion makes him a pleasure to watch. He also isn't afraid to get physical in coverage or against run. Smith's consistent play makes the defensive backfield that much better and should help the development of two young safeties in Anthony Perkins and Patrick Mahnke. His lock down ability allows the Buffs to send extra linebackers to pressure the quarterback.
That is a good dream huh?