Spring ball is time when younger players have a chance to step up and grab hold of starting jobs. Three such players fighting for playing this spring are Charles Brown, Butch Lewis and Vincent Joseph.
Brown, a 6-foot-6 monster of a man, is battling senior Drew Radovich for playing time at right tackle.
"I'm doing my best at RT and trying to compete for a starting job, while trying to learn from the vets like Sam Baker and Chilo [Rachal]," Brown said.
Brown is still young, he'll be a redshirt sophomore at the beginning of next season, so no matter what happens this spring there is still plenty of time. Which ever way the starting lineup unfolds, Brown is the consummate team player and is more concerned about the unit as a whole.
"We're all trying to gel with one another and get as [cohesive] as possible. Sam and Chilo are the leaders right now, and we try to follow there lead."
Much of the talk recently has been about the difficulties of the center-quarterback exchange. Brown believes the problem will be solved soon enough.
"They come out before practice and work on it, and it has been showing over the last couple days."
Fighting for playing time at the other tackle spot is redshirt freshman Butch Lewis. Unfortunately Lewis got sick over spring break and lost nearly 20-pounds.
"I've been trying to eat a little steak and potatoes," Lewis said. "[Typically] two steaks and three servings of potatoes, but that's nothing compared to what Chilo [Rachal] eats."
With or without the weight loss, Lewis was basically in a fight he couldn't win behind All-American candidate, and entrenched senior Sam Baker. But Lewis relishes the learning experience Baker provides.
"I've learned a lot this spring from Sam Baker studying his kick-steps and run-blocking," He said. "I'm learning from him every day...so I've improved a lot this spring."
Lewis is yet another 'character kid', who clearly respects the veterans on the team. Along with relishing his experience behind one of the great left tackles in the country, he also declined to wear No. 75 out of respect for another senior.
"I'm letting Fili Moala do his thing with #75, it's his senior year, we already talked about it so I'm not worried," Lewis said about potentially having two No. 75's on the team. "I'll get it next year, unless they want to use it to get a freshman."
Lewis said he hasn't come close to achieving his potential, "I've got to still keep on my footwork and continue to get physical, but you never know, I may have to come in and do my job [unexpectedly]."
Quick hit with VJ:
Vincent Joseph is in much better position to contribute to the team this coming season than he was as a true freshman, and he believes a lot of that has to do with the maturation process of being in college.
"I've got a little bigger, a little more mature and see things a little easier on the field."
That added maturity will only aid Joseph in winning the nickel spot in the secondary.
"I've been working with coach Seto and Terrel Thomas so it's looking real good."
Reason number 37 why I love Rey Maualuga: When the linebackers do the contact drills that require pads for their forearms he refuses to use them. Just a different person than you and I.
Herschel Dennis is looking much bigger than before. Where he used to be that cross between LenDale and Reggie, he now looks much closer to LenDale-size. He absolutely punished the walk-ons.
Which brings me to... Dennis had a long run in the 11-on-11 scrimmage today. Near the end of the run Will Harris – no longer wearing the yellow 'no contact' jersey – tried to tackle Dennis, however Thomas Herring had run all the way down field and completely blew Harris up. Absolutely leveled him. Sidelines went crazy, impartial and generally indifferent OC Registrar beat writers (yeah, I'm talking about you, Mark) even reacted to the hit. Will Harris, clearly irked by the hit, took his frustration out on David Ausberry and lowered his shoulder into him when he was in the flat, but Auz is a monster and seemed to enjoy the contact. As ESPN announcers always feel the need to say, 'things are getting chippy out here.'
Speaking of walk-ons, it should be mentioned that this is the third straight practice I've been to where a walk-on has had a pick... of Mark Sanchez.
Vincent Joseph said some interesting things that didn't really fit into the article anywhere, but I felt needed to be shared. On being friendly and open to media members asking him for interviews: 'Oh no, it's kind of awesome. It makes you feel wanted. I always try to take time to do interviews because it's something that will only help you. I've always been taught since day one to treat people with respect, and I'm also kind of a funny guy and that helps with giving interviews.' Also, he wants us to know that we're not alone, he's afraid of Luther Brown, too.