Akron began spring practice without its quarterback, No. 1 and No. 2 receivers.
Carlton Jackson dressed but remained on the sidelines on the stationary bike. Coach J.D. Brookhart held him back for "internal" reasons. In other words, he didn't want to tell me. Jackson should be back tomorrow.
Jabari Arthur broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot. Brookhart did not seem so concerned. In fact, the coach joked that he's getting mileage out of Arthur as a coach. Arthur probably won't play all spring.
The same goes for David Harvey, whom Brookhart cleared for spring practice because of personal issues.
Despite all that semi-negative news, it was a pretty fascinating practice (and great to get out in the sun).
I know how you Zips fans love reading bullet-pointed notes. Here they are...
- Per NCAA guidelines, teams must begin with two practices of helmets only -- no pads. That pretty much dictates that hitting will be minimal, and it was.
- It's a good thing for Akron's quarterbacks. Chris Jacquemain and Sean Hakes scrambled like I've never seen from a Zips signal caller. Brookhart said it's by design, now that Luke Getsy's immobility is not a factor. "You see the athleticism of quarterbacks beat you," he said. "It's exciting to have that working in your favor."
- Tight ends Brian Flaherty and Jose Cruz look to be your long snappers, in that order. Neither looked especially strong, but take that for what it's worth. There were plenty of dropped snaps, passes and punts. None of that worried Brookhart too much, since it's the first practice.
- I was talking with a friend of Brookhart's on the sideline. A Pitt native and Panthers fan, he told me about the celebration fans held on campus when Andrew Johnson committed to Pitt. Of course, he decommitted and went to Miami the night before signing day. Now he's at Akron, but will sit out this season. Brookhart said he was impressed with what Johnson showed today.
- Hakes had a very up and down day. It's clear to me that his potential is limitless. He is incredibly quick. He has great moves in the open field, too. He made some excellent passes today. On the other hand, he threw a couple "are you serious?" passes, too. It's a shame either Jackson or Hakes will be a career backup. They have super-high ceilings. "Hakes is kind of a wild card," Brookhart conceded.
- Chris Jacquemain has a good arm. He won't impress anyone but will be a solid backup in the MAC.
- I thought the offensive line looked good. Brookhart said he'd like to see improvement. "We've got some growing to do up front offensively," he said. This year's line is more athletic with longer wingspans. That certainly will help with pass blocking and running left or right. Don't expect so much down-your-windpipe handoffs, though.
- Linemen opened some nice holes for Andre Walker and Dennis Kennedy. Walker especially impressed me. I never realized how fast he is. It also will be a shame that there aren't enough carries for Walker, Kennedy, Alex Allen and Bryan Williams.
- Speaking of Allen, he is still recovering from his torn ACL. He's not listed on the depth chart at this point.
- I know. I know. I haven't even talked about the defense yet. It's good to see cornerback Reggie Corner get another year of eligibility thanks to Proposition 48. He completed a certain percentage of his credit load by the end of his fourth year, and that awarded him the opportunity to play as a fifth-year senior. Brookhart thinks very highly of Corner, whom the coach said may go from being good to great this year. Linebacker Parris McNeal is also a Prop 48 senior.
- You'll see defensive lineman Shawn Lemon on the roster. He grayshirted last season. The means he signed a letter of intent in 2006. Then he did not enroll for another year. Often, players do this to bulk up, nurse an injury, repair grades or for some other reason, Mike Cahill told me. All that matters is that Brookhart has another body to throw in there.
- Junior college transfers Casey Estrada (LT) and Miguel Graham (CB) are on the roster, though neither is listed as a starter.
- I'll have more after tomorrow's practice.