Rockets begin Training CampWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The UT football team began preparations for another season with lofty expectations as it opened up the 2012 training camp on Aug. 3.
“We split our team into two and it’s great to be back out here with these guys,” Toledo head coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s kind of fun to see the strides that a lot of these guys have made from the end of spring to the start of fall camp. I know our kids are really excited and from an attitude standpoint it was outstanding. Now we get a chance to really grow as a football team.”
The Rockets held two half-squad practices to begin the camp. The first started at 8:30 a.m. before the rest of the team took the field at 4. The players will continue with this practice format through the weekend until they begin full-squad practices on Aug. 6.
Campbell, who will be entering his first full season at the helm of the UT program, separated the two teams to make them “as even as possible” to attempt to make the players “feel like starters.”
In 2012, Toledo has been projected as the preseason favorite to win the Mid-American Conference West Division by a vote of the 17 members of the league’s media contingent. They still have some major holes to fill, especially on offense, but Campbell thinks those replacements may already exist on their young roster.
The Rockets lost playmakers Eric Page and Adonis Thomas from last year’s squad but appear to have experienced replacements in David Fluellen at running back and Bernard Reedy at wide receiver. The offensive line, however, lost three members from last season’s unit, which finished sixth in the nation, allowing only 10 sacks on the year.
The team still returns talent up front, however, in Rimington candidate Zac Kerin in the middle alongside second-year guard Greg Mancz, who was named to the Freshman All-American Team for Yahoo! Sports in 2011.
“It’s a situation right now where we have some youth in some key spots and some guys that will be challenging for some spots on offense,” Campbell said. “Of course, our offensive line, we have to replace a couple veteran football players, and I’m really proud of what those guys looked like.”
Toledo’s already suspect secondary, which ranked 105th in the country in pass defense last year, giving up over 268 yards per game, took a big blow as well at the cornerback position losing its two most solid starters in Desmond Marrow and Taikwon Paige. Among the candidates to replace them this season are senior Byron Best, sophomores Keith Suggs, Kishon Wilcher and Jordan Haden and redshirt freshman Chris Dukes.
“We lost two guys who played a lot at corner,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of talent there and we have got three or four guys that will come into the football game and play consistently for us.”
Toledo returns 12 starters from last season’s unit, which went 9-4 with a 7-1 record in conference play. Among those returning are three All-MAC performers including Reedy and quarterback duo of senior Austin Dantin and junior Terrance Owens.
Tags: Austin Dantin, Bernard Reedy, Byron Best, Chris Dukes, David Fluellen, Greg Mancz, Jordan Haden, Keith Suggs, Kishon Wilcher, Matt Campbell, Mid-American Conference, Rocket football, Terrance Owens, Zac Kerin, Zach Davis