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University of Akron Zips blog

Robinson loses starting job

By mrasor Published: April 30, 2007

Football
It seemed like the coaching staff was pleased with Nate Robinson's progress this spring.
He looked slimmer, too.
However, the post-spring depth chart shows Wallace Pendleton as the starting nose tackle. That's the biggest surprise in the new depth chart.
There is still no decision at quarterback. All three candidates are tied for the race. Place kicker also is up in the air.
You can compare the old and new depth chart (Post-spring Depth Chart PDF) or just read below as I have outlined the other changes...

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Getsy possibly headed for San Francisco

By mrasor Published: April 30, 2007

Football
I'm hearing Luke Getsy will sign with San Francisco today.
The 49ers have Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer and Shaun Hill at quarterback already, but it's possible the former Zips signal caller could beat out the latter.
If true, Getsy will join Mike Nori, Akron former tight ends coach who is now an offensive assistant under coach Mike Nolan.

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Alleman discusses draft night

By mrasor Published: April 30, 2007

Football
Andy Alleman
became antsy as soon as Dallas and New Orleans traded out of the second round.
The former Zips guard had visited both teams in the past few weeks. Their hospitality made Alleman believe they were two of his most likely suitors.
"There was a lot of tension in the room," Alleman said.
As the third round progressed, Alleman became more and more worried he could plummet to the fourth round.
At about 10:45, a New Orleans coach called Alleman to tell him the news. He would be the Saints' pick at No. 88 overall.
"To hear my name was a big relief," Alleman said. "It feels great."
As one might expect, the Alleman household became flooded with tears.
"I broke down when they called," he said. "It was very emotional."
Within minutes after ESPN announced the pick, Alleman's phone went berserk with about 17 text messages, he estimated.
"It was frantic," Alleman said. "It was a bit of a blur."
Alleman will report to rookie camp in two weeks. Knowing the time between the draft and camp would be hectic, he bought a new car ahead of time. I think he said it was a Lexus, making Alleman one of the league's few linemen not driving a truck or SUV.
It might be a blessing that the Saints don't expect Alleman to start right away. They have solid starters in Jamal Nesbit and Jahri Evans. It should give the former Zip time to acclimate himself to the NFL before Nesbit hits free agency next season.

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Zips nearly win their own event

By mrasor Published: April 29, 2007

Golf
Akron placed second in the FirstEnergy Intercollegiate at Firestone Country Club, just one stroke back of Eastern Kentucky.
It was the Zips' best finish in their home event, and they topped several MAC teams. That should give them momentum heading into next week's conference tournament.
Colin Clemente finished in fourth place at even par. Blake Sattler, Ryan Gutowski and Brad Wright were close behind.
I'm really rooting for the team to bring home an unexpected MAC title next weekend.

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Zips offer six more

By mrasor Published: April 29, 2007

Football
Rivals.com reports Akron has offered scholarships to six more players...

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Alleman talks to Times-Picayune

By mrasor Published: April 29, 2007

Football
Andy Alleman
gave some great quotes to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
It's worth reading.
It looks like the Saints are stockpiling Ohio's college players. After grabbing Tennessee's Robert Meachem with their first rounder, New Orleans took Kent State's Usama Young, Alleman and then Ohio State's Antonio Pittman.
I think they took Young too early, yet got a steal with Pittman in the fourth round. Alleman went just about where I expected him to fall.

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Alleman sighting

By mrasor Published: April 29, 2007

Football
Andy Alleman
is far from your typical party animal.
For the first time, I saw him out on the town trying to celebrate the fact that he's a third-round NFL draft pick. To be honest, I'm not sure if he was consuming alcoholic beverages. I don't think he was.
Bottom line: It's good to see a guy who works so hard get something he deserves.

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ALLEMAN TO NEW ORLEANS

By mrasor Published: April 28, 2007

Football
Andy Alleman
is heading to the NFC finalist New Orleans Saints to play on the same line as former Brown Jeff Faine.
The Saints took him 88th overall, making him the fourth-highest Akron player ever drafted, behind Jason Taylor, Charlie Frye and Dwight Smith.
I am going to give him a call sometime tonight to get his reaction for you guys.

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Pluto's thoughts

By mrasor Published: April 28, 2007

Football
The ABJ's Terry Pluto writes that the Joe Thomas selection will help Charlie Frye, whether he's a backup or starter in 2007.
He also mentions the sizable hole at right guard, where Akron's Andy Alleman might fit in.
I'm still skeptical the Browns will use a third rounder on Alleman after using the first two picks (and one from next year) on the passing game and protection.
I hoped that Frye would get a more fair shake at starting for the Browns, but it doesn't appear that way. As an acquaintance of Frye and Browns fan, I'm hoping he gets traded for a third rounder, increasing the probability Alleman stays in northeast Ohio.
Best case scenario, of course, is that Frye wins the job and performs admirably enough to make him a more tradable asset (See Philip Rivers/Drew Brees in 2006).

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Frye's job in jeopardy

By mrasor Published: April 28, 2007

Football
The Browns traded up to select a free-falling Brady Quinn at No. 22 overall in the NFL Draft.
That has to be bad news for Charlie Frye and the Browns, since they gave up this year's second round pick and next year's first rounder.
It's a lopsided deal, and Phil Savage better pray Quinn is a Pro Bowler or else this trade is a travesty. Think about what the Browns just did...
They traded a high second rounder this year and a high first rounder next year (presumably) for a quarterback whom many don't even consider the franchise variety. That's awful.
Of course, it probably means the end of Frye's starting career with Cleveland.
If you're wondering how this affects Andy Alleman, I think it makes it even less likely the Browns will go offense again to select an offensive guard.

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Alleman's chances with Cleveland slimmer

By mrasor Published: April 28, 2007

Football
Now that the Browns took offensive tackle Joe Thomas third overall, it appears slightly less likely Andy Alleman will play for Cleveland.
Don't you think?
If you want more consistent liveblogging on draft day with an Akron flavor, click over to Dan Kadar's blog on NewEraScouting.com.

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Alleman excited about today

By mrasor Published: April 28, 2007

Football
Today might as well be a national holiday for sports nerds like me.
Since the NFL Draft falls on a Saturday, there's really no necessity for that.
Anyhow, I talked to Andy Alleman a few times this week. He kept asking if it was Saturday yet. Aside from advising him about the day of the week, I listened to some extreme excitement.
And why wouldn't he be? He went from above-average MAC lineman to possible second-round pick in just weeks.
If I'm Alleman, I'm not getting my hopes up. It's very easy to slide on draft day. I stand by my initial estimation that he'll go in the third round. I would love to see the Browns grab him.
I'm going to give Alleman a call after he's chosen, and I'll have that conversation for you shortly thereafter.
Men's basketball
At the end of Tom Gaffney's story about Keith Dambrot's contract extension, he mentions that John Rybak is transferring to Texas State.
It seems like a great thing for both parties. Rybak never would play extended minutes, and now the Zips have a scholarship freed up. Gaffney suggests Columbus DeSales' Alex Kellogg, son of television analyst and former Buckeye Clark Kellogg, could be the target.

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UA extends Dambrot's contract

By mrasor Published: April 27, 2007

Men's basketball
Keith Dambrot is one of the MAC's best coaches.
Now he's getting paid like it.
For the second time in five months, UA extended the fourth-year coach's contract. His deal is among the top third of MAC coaches, the university says.
Knowing Dambrot isn't a money hungry guy, the respect of a new contract among the MAC's highest could be as valuable as the extra dollars.

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Defense's grades for spring practice

By mrasor Published: April 27, 2007

Football
I think the theme of the defense this spring was dominance.
Of course, you have to consider that the offense was young and missing key players for much or all of the 15-practice schedule.
With that in mind, the young touted recruits certainly showed why Zipsnation (the concept, not the Web site ... actually, both) got so excited about them.
Defensive line: C-. Anyone who knows me will tell you how worried I was about this position. Last year's line made few plays (although that may be attributed to the 3-3-5 scheme), and two of those guys are gone. The spring showed me that the starters can be serviceable. In other words, they won't be the best in the conference, nor the worst. A more fit Nate Robinson will be a solid run stuffer. Eric Lively and Jared Cecchetti look like average MAC defenders. The backups are another story. Shawn Lemon is going to be good pass rusher. After that, it's anyone's guess. Viktor Rajek has the athleticism for the position, but not the knowledge for the position yet. Hopefully, a couple of the 2007 recruits are ready to play. Speaking of recruits, Rivals.com is showing Hassan Hazime from Ontario as a late signee. J.D. Brookhart mentioned him -- although not by name -- as a player who possibly could suit up as a true freshman. Florida, Florida State and Boston College had shown interest before he settled on his only offer, Akron. The coach also said Joe Rash might be ready. Overall, the coaches should be pleased if the defensive line is just average next season.
Linebackers: A. Doug Williams is a freak. His play will really surprise Zips fans next season. He proved to be an impact player this spring. Kevin Grant had a nagging injury, and coaches decided to keep him out for much of the spring because he's already proven. Brion Stokes is a terrific blitzer, and hopefully the coaches fire him into the pocket on every third down next season. The real question is, will the coaches find enough playing time for Al-Teric Balaam? The sophomore is an All-MAC linebacker in the making. It would be nice to have a little more depth, but all in all, the linebackers are equipped to put hits on running backs, cover tight ends with their athleticism and rush the passer.
Defensive backs: A+. Yeah A+. Although they weren't tested by David Harvey, Jabari Arthur or a veteran quarterback this spring, they were downright impregnable. John Mackey and Davanzo Tate have to be preseason favorites for All-MAC safeties. They also have four cornerbacks who could start for almost every other team in the conference. What impresses me most is the leadership this mostly upperclassman group exudes. They have a certain swagger that will not let the rest of the defense play lackadasically. As long as the defensive line gets adequate penetration, no current MAC quarterback-receiver combination should scare this corps.
Punter: Incomplete. John Stec did a decent job in his freshman season. I grade him as incomplete for the spring because I didn't watch him punt much, and to be honest, I don't know how to analyze a punter during practice.
Kicker: B-. Matt Domonkos showed a considerable boost in leg strength. The fact that Brookhart would send him to the field with a 56-yarder in front of him on Saturday is proof of that. But Domonkos has always been a good practice kicker, so there's no use in getting excited about that. Igor Iveljic missed half of spring with a sore back. He was a bit rusty upon his anticipated return, biffing a few kicks here and there. He still performed well enough to earn the first-string duties, in my opinion, going into the fall. That's of course assuming he doesn't beat the crap out of another fellow student. (As an aside, wouldn't it be lethal if Iveljic knew karate? That would make for a forceful front kick.)
Special teams: B. It's hard to judge the kickoff coverage when I didn't see one kickoff. However, Brookhart used the final 15 minutes of each practice to teach blocking techniques. That is enough to give me confidence that this squad will adapt well to the new NCAA rule of kickoffs coming from the 30-yard line, rather than the 35.

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King James Classic brings exposure for UA

By mrasor Published: April 26, 2007

Men's basketball
Keith Dambrot may not have a top-notch field house or promise of a new stadium to lure recruits.
He does have a 6-foot-8 forward who can't stop bringing attention to the school in his hometown.
Terry Pluto wrote today about how the King James Classic AAU basketball tournament brings the nation's best high school talent to Akron and Kent State. Last year, that may have helped to land Ronnie Steward, the state's best point guard who ventured onto campus because of the tournament.
I have no clue who is on what team, but here is the schedule for the tournament that starts tomorrow.

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A look inside the Zips' finances

By mrasor Published: April 25, 2007

Miscellaneous
I did some snooping this semester about where the athletic department -- and the university as a whole -- spend their money.
There might be some stuff in the story you might not know.
I'll post that story below. If you're interested, here's the link to the main story, which focuses on the whole university.
Mack Rhoades stood over his desk, placed his hand on his jaw and sighed.
"We have to get a football stadium built," said the University of Akron's athletic director.
"The Rubber Bowl prohibits us with attendance - especially with students," he continued. "The lack of amenities, the deteriorating seats, et cetera. It prohibits us from maximizing revenue."
Having the $54 million on-campus stadium ready for 2009 is a goal held by many at the university, but especially by the fans.
An entirely different contingency among the university community is asking, "Why bother?"
UA subsidized its athletic department $13.1 million last year. That is $13.1 million that could have gone to improve academic programs, they say.
The football program alone lost more than $3 million. No sport came even close to breaking even (see chart on A2).
Also, coaches spent $500,000 last year in recruiting. In layman's terms, the university is paying $500,000 to coax high school students to accept a full-ride scholarship at UA. It's a double whammy.
Rhoades offers several defenses against these points.
Although Akron sports don't come close to paying for themselves, only a handful of the teams at the 119 Division IA schools do.
The national standard is that a university subsidizes athletics with about 5 percent of its total budget. The $13.1 million subsidy is just less than 4 percent of UA's $345 million budget.
Some sports also help by attracting paying students. The track team, which awards only a small fraction of its 90 athletes with scholarships, increases tuition by attracting students to UA, who normally would go elsewhere. That figure could reach $1 million for the track team alone.
"We are, by far, a great bargain with what we bring in and provide," track coach Dennis Mitchell said.
About 200 athletes on campus are without a full scholarship, Rhoades said. Those students pay tuition, but that money is not calculated as athletics revenue.
Rhoades also points to the publicity sports garner for a university. The football team will play twice on ESPN next season. Ninety million homes receive that network, and each of the viewers, conceivably, could walk away from the television set with a higher level of respect for UA.
"For most universities, the greatest marketing window is athletics," Rhoades said. "It can lead people to investigate the academics, which is most important."
Another intangible benefit is the cohesion that university athletics offer.
"It can be a focal point of celebration," Rhoades said. "If you're winning, it brings a sense of school spirit to the campus."
Still, Rhoades said his department must improve upon the $3 million in total revenue it generated last year.
The department has improved already since Rhoades arrived in January 2006. Football ticket sales brought in $349,000 last season, which is double the total from 2005 when Akron won the Mid-American Conference Championship. With Keith Dambrot's Zips winning 26 men's basketball games, attendance income jumped 15 percent to $270,000, and that's even with a massive blizzard wiping out attendance for the game against Ohio University which was expected to be a big money maker.
Women's basketball is considered the third-largest collegiate sport. Akron's team brought in only $25,800 last year. That is a figure with perhaps the highest potential to grow, Rhoades said.
"It hasn't been a successful program," Rhoades said. "People want to see a quality product. Before we can think about making money, we have to have a better product."
That illustrates the importance of winning to a financially successful institution. Take Ohio State University, for example. The Buckeyes were national runners-up in men's basketball and football. OSU's budget of $98 million reflects that. It is the highest of any department in the nation.
Merchandise sales at Ohio State also boost revenue significantly. It's hard to walk anywhere without seeing a Buckeyes shirt or baseball cap, even on UA's campus.
UA's merchandising is not so lucrative. The university hires Licensing Resource Group, Inc. to protect its brand and logo. LRG collected about $50,000 last year from manufacturers, such as Nike or New Era, who sold Zips merchandise in retail stores or over the Internet. Of course, the university sells merchandise itself at the team stores at Rhodes Arena and the Rubber Bowl. Those ventures earned UA $168,000 in 2006.
Although the football team loses millions of dollars, it recoups plenty through "buy games," which are road games the university plays against bigger schools for a large paycheck.
The going rate is about $600,000 that a large school, such as the University of Michigan, will pay an institution from a mid-major conference, such as Akron, to travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for just one game.
With travel expenses rarely reaching higher than $80,000, this can become somewhat of a welfare system to the smaller schools. Akron will play two such away games next season: at Ohio State and Connecticut.
These revenue enhancing methods are nice, but the truth is, UA's athletic budget sits at $16 million - which is in the lowest third of the teams in the MAC.
Rhoades believes the new stadium can help boost revenue, and thus, increase the budget from which he can draw.
"We have to increase the amount of revenue we generate," Rhoades said. "That is our focus."
Baseball
The Buchtelite's Josh Volchko profiled Akron's new three hitter, Doug McNulty.
The team got rained out today against Cleveland State. They will play Buffalo this weekend.
Golf
The Buchtelite's Jeff Thomas wrote about Brad Wright, who quietly has become the anchor of the Zips' successful season and perhaps the MAC's best golfer.
The Zips will host the FirstEnergy Intercollegiate this weekend at Firestone Country Club.
Miscellaneous, Pt. II
Do you remember our epic debate about Paul Rodgers versus Freddie Mercury as Queen's lead singer?
I read something on the Internet that proves me right.

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University budgets

By mrasor Published: April 25, 2007

Miscellaneous
I realize this is a sports blog, but I did some digging for my senior honors project about the university's finances. If you get a moment, it might be worth checking out these PDFs.
The university’s macro budget for FY 2006
College and auxiliary services budgets

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Zips take inaugural Diamond Classic

By mrasor Published: April 25, 2007

Baseball
Akron beat Kent State at Canal Park 3-1 tonight.
More than 800 fans showed up for the game. Proceeds will go to Akron Children's Hospital.

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Offensive grade cards for spring ball

By mrasor Published: April 24, 2007

Football
After watching the Zips play the past month, I have some grades for the offensive positions and some players. Defense will come later.

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Zips best Flashes, RedHawks

By mrasor Published: April 24, 2007

Golf
Akron resoundingly beat conference rivals Miami and Kent State by 21 strokes in a tri-match this week.
Colin Clemente was the medalist with scores of 69 and 72 at Windmill Lakes Golf Club and Firestone Country Club, respectively.
This should be a huge confidence boost heading into the MAC Tournament in two weeks. This weekend, the Zips will try to win their own First Energy Intercollegiate.
Baseball
Charlie Frye
and Joshua Cribbs will throw out the ceremonial first pitches before tonight's Akron-Kent State game at Canal Park, which begins at 6 p.m. and will benefit Akron Children's Hospital.

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Secondary strength

By mrasor Published: April 23, 2007

Football
The Buchtelite's Adam Ferrise wrote about the Zips' greatest asset: the defensive backs.
In that vein, my column talks about how the team's leadership has changed. (By the way, sometimes I write my column and I'm sort of lukewarm about the topic. This is a really fascinating transformation of the football team. And I believe it's for real.) ...
The ball joint of John Mackey's shoulder was chipped last season. With each tackle, the jagged bone ripped cartilage away from his socket.
The Zips safety played through torture.
So when Mackey tells his teammates they need to straighten up, they listen.
"They respect that guy," coach J.D. Brookhart said. "He played through pain nobody else would have played through."
Mackey's endurance may not have won the team an extra game, but it could serve as a turning point in Brookhart's tenure.
For the first few years, players lacked discipline. And the blame doesn't fall completely on the coaches. They could only do so much without leaders on the field to enforce the right way to play.
Coming into last year, Akron was the media's nearly unanimous choice to repeat as division champs. Then the team got blown out at Kent State and Toledo. And with a chance to earn a bowl bid in the season finale, Akron failed to score at home against Western Michigan.
"Everybody was out playing for themselves," one player told me.
It's a dirty little secret about mid-major football that you can recruit big-time talent with questionable intangibles, or you can pursue adequate players with good character. Rarely do the players with both attributes slip to Mid-American Conference teams.
After the season, Brookhart recognized his leadership vacuum. He asked Mackey to lead more vocally, rather than just through his example.
Coaches also set up a counseling session, hoping to create a few more Mackeys. The counselor explained how important it is for players to stand up to teammates when they aren't performing as they should, and to do it constructively.
Brookhart never could have expected the results.
"It opened people up," senior defensive back Davanzo Tate said. "No one takes offense (to criticism)."
On Saturday, I asked Brookhart to compare the leadership this spring to last season. Before I could finish the question, the coach emphatically blurted, "very different."
And it goes beyond having a cowboy senior quarterback or linebacker, which is the traditional conception of leadership in college football.
"You see younger guys saying something to older guys if they're doing something wrong," junior linebacker Doug Williams said.
Rodney Etienne, a sophomore defensive back, even corrected the fiery Mackey on an error this spring - a feat similar to negotiating with a grizzly bear.
Mackey loved it.
"Somebody needs to say when you need to get your head out of your ass," Mackey said.
Coming into this season, the Zips have several question marks. They are replacing almost the entire offensive line. They are razor-thin at defensive line. They will rely on an unproven underclassman at quarterback.
Two things are certain. First, leadership won't be an issue.
"You have a bunch of guys who care about this program and they speak up," Brookhart said.
Second, Mackey - despite not being the tallest or fastest safety you'll ever see - is a franchise player.
I asked Brookhart what Mackey means to the Zips. The coach wouldn't let me finish the question.
"Everything."
Men's soccer
Ferrise also wrote about the Zips progress this spring.
A couple freshmen could become major contributors on offense.

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Cruz decommits from Pitt

By mrasor Published: April 22, 2007

Football
Mike Cruz, a highly recruited tight end and brother of Akron's Jose Cruz, has gone back on his commitment to play at Pitt.
His high school coach says the younger Cruz has concerns of playing in a big city. Also playing a part could be the fact that Florida State offered him a scholarship. Cruz recently visited West Virginia, which is another likely destination.
Here are some new recruits J.D. Brookhart's staff has offered...

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Zips sweep All-Ohio Championships

By mrasor Published: April 22, 2007

Track
Akron wiped out each collegiate track team in the state -- men and women -- in winning the All-Ohio Championships.
And it wasn't all that close for either gender.
The Zips held off second-place Cincinnati

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Saturday scrimmage notes

By mrasor Published: April 21, 2007

Football
It took 15 practices for the passing game to come around with the Zips relying on underclassmen quarterbacks and backup receivers.
Chris Jacquemain particularly played well in Saturday's scrimmage, completing 11 of 14 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
Sean Hakes and Carlton Jackson looked good at times, too.
Coach J.D. Brookhart wanted some clarity with quarterback situation this spring. If anything, the situation became more muddled.
Just a week ago, I thought this would be a two-man race between Jackson and Hakes. You might even say Jacquemain has clawed into the lead after a strong set of practices following the spring game.
My gut tells me the coaching staff will go with Jackson because he's the incumbent of sorts, but who knows? The coaching staff is taking a week-long vacation. They will return and produce a new depth chart which should answer some questions.
Notes:

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Thursday practice notes

By mrasor Published: April 19, 2007

Football
J.D. Brookhart
has a problem.
A really, really good one.
He has about five running backs who would merit carries on a decent Mid-American Conference team.
Last year, that would have come in handy after first and second stringers Dennis Kennedy and Alex Allen suffered injuries.
"You better be three-deep minimum at tailback or you're in trouble," Brookhart said.
Along with a healthy Kennedy and Allen, the coaches can call upon Andre Walker, who has had a fantastic spring, Joe McDaniel, who looked pretty solid today, and Joe Tuzze, a capable bruiser.
That's not to mention Bryan Williams and Aaris Reed, who could earn carries during the summer.
When I asked Brookhart about Williams, he let out a good chuckle. He knows he has a great problem on his hands.
Notes:

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Tuesday practice notes

By mrasor Published: April 17, 2007

Football
The offense scored a bit of revenge from the spring game today, going on a streak of about 15 minutes where the passes crisply hit their marks and running backs broke free for first downs.
As Carlton Jackson and Sean Hakes moved the ball, the offense's sidelines looked like a team counting down the seconds before being handed the MAC Championship.
Of course, the defensive captain (and craziest man on the field), John Mackey, didn't like that. He fired up the defense, which began to blitz, and the defense regained its dominance for the remainder of the fourth-to-last spring practice.
Notes:

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Golfers win third event

By mrasor Published: April 17, 2007

Golf
Never in the 50-year history of the program have the Zips won three events until this season.
Akron bested 13 other schools to win the Wolf Run Intercollegiate in Zionsville, Ind.
Brad Wright won medalist honors at eight-over par.
The Zips have two more tuneups before the MAC Championship on May 2.
Football
The Buchtelite's Adam Ferrise went in-depth about how Akron's offense will change this year.
It's definitely worth reading.

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My quarterback endorsement

By mrasor Published: April 16, 2007

Football
Before you read my column, take a grain of salt.
I'm no football expert or coach and only a semi-observant fan. Still, after watching plenty of all three quarterbacks, I have come to a conclusion as to who the starter should be...
In the coming months, football coach J.D. Brookhart will make a decision arguably more important to the campus community than anything that comes before president Luis Proenza's desk.
Brookhart will decide who will quarterback the Zips for the next few years.
With three underclassmen vying for the role - the most vital spot on the team - the coaching staff isn't just choosing its starter for this year, but the quarterback until that person graduates three or four years down the line.
Indeed, judging QB potential is crucial. It is the difference between Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning.
And you can't just go by the quantifiable measures. All three candidates for Akron's job possess strong arms, elusive running ability and decent field vision. They wouldn't be NCAA Bowl Division quarterbacks if they didn't. Intangibles, such as leadership and character, should also weigh heavily.
After watching several hours of spring football practice the past two weeks, I have come to a conclusion and am prepared to endorse one player. Before I do, here are my scouting reports on all three:
Carlton Jackson - Coming into the spring, "CJ" was No. 1 on the depth chart. A few practices into camp, he suffered a concussion that knocked him out of commission for about a week. Still, he has had plenty of time to show why Brookhart recruited him out of Pompano Beach, Fla.
Jackson shows great poise in the pocket for a sophomore. He appears calm and doesn't fret when his inexperienced offensive line allows defensive penetration. His best gift is a speed more commonly seen from a wide receiver. Jackson might not be thick enough, however, to take a pounding that usually comes with being a running quarterback.
Coaches also have had off-the-field problems with Jackson that may have kept him out of a couple games last season.
Chris Jacquemain - Last season, Jacquemain lost the battle for the backup job to Jackson. He has missed significant time this spring with a minor shoulder injury.
He showed off his good arm when he was healthy. The sophomore's downfield running vision and above average athleticism allow him to gain chunks of yards when receivers are covered. Accuracy is a point of concern, though. He overthrew several passes. One example is the interception Jacquemain threw during the spring game Sunday.
Sean Hakes - Hakes redshirted last season, meaning he did not play, nor did he expend a year of eligibility. Although the injuries to Jackson and Jacquemain limited the team's options the past two weeks, Hakes has taken advantage of the extra snaps to catch up to the other quarterbacks' experience.
Hakes, who also played strong safety at Nolan Catholic High School in Texas, likes to run with the ball. Unlike most quarterbacks, however, the athletic Hakes doesn't mind contact. Nearing the sidelines on one play this spring, Hakes trucked over a linebacker, rather than daintily stepping out of bounds.
Hakes also reminds coaches he's just a freshman almost daily. On many plays, he found an open receiver a blink too late. Rather than look for another target, Hakes tried to force the ball to him anyhow. That was a concoction for several interceptions, but Hakes has worked to cut down on them.
My endorsement - Not that it matters, but I think I have the answer to this pivotal question.
It's Hakes.
Of course, he must continue to eliminate the "what are you thinking?" passes. But he has demonstrated a humble confidence that makes him receptive to the coaches' teaching, yet is assured his teammates will follow his leadership.
Hakes says he has a genuine passion for taking Akron to another level in college football. Ever since his freshman year of high school, he has dreamt of leading a college team to a bowl game, he said.
Being a redshirt freshman, rather than a sophomore like his competitors, Hakes has an extra year of eligibility. Although Brookhart denies that will play a role in his decision, it is logical that should be a tiebreaker.
In the end, the quarterback decision won't be as consequential as Leaf vs. Manning. All three candidates are capable of being solid Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.
The goal, however, is to tap the next great MAC quarterback to lead the Zips.
I believe that's Sean Hakes.

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Defense dominates spring game

By mrasor Published: April 15, 2007

Football
Doug Williams
emphatically capped a sensational spring with two sacks and a blocked field goal in the Blue-Gold game.
The defense won 28-10. The only offensive points came from a Sean Hakes-to-Marcus Patterson touchdown and 49-yard Matt Domonkos field goal.
Let's get back to Williams, though, who showed that he can go beyond being serviceable, and perhaps become a star.
"Doug has had the best spring on anyone on the team," coach J.D. Brookhart said. "It's great to have a big body at linebacker who can cover and blitz."
Overall, spring football games are fairly dull. You try to watch specific positions and players, but that is difficult for anyone (like me) who's not a scout.
Here are some notes:

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Zips extend another offer

By mrasor Published: April 14, 2007

Men's basketball
Marquise Simmons
is a 6-foot-7 forward from Maryland whom Akron hopes to reel in this recruiting year.
The Zips have offered a scholarship to Simmons, a three-star player, according to Scout.com.
Here are some other recruiting updates:

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GoZips.com coverage improving

By mrasor Published: April 14, 2007

Football
If you haven't noticed, GoZips.com now has information valuable to Zips fans that goes beyond press releases and box scores.
I attribute that to the new chief PR guy Mike Cawood.
A lot of Zips fans chide the new administration, but this guy knows what he's doing, and the improved content speaks for itself. He is much better for this reason (and in dealing with the media) than his predecessor Shawn Nestor, who left to take a similar job at Maryland.
Anyhow, after today's practice, J.D. Brookhart told Cawood about the new kickoff rule and his take on it.

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Friday practice notes

By mrasor Published: April 13, 2007

Football
No matter how many players step up in other positions, I won't be too optimistic until the defensive line is configured two-deep.
The line wasn't very good last year, even with experience.
Now that Jermaine Reid and Kiki Gonzalez are gone, Akron will need to fill two starting roles.
So far the depth chart reads: Jared Cecchetti, Nate Robinson and Eric Lively.
I asked J.D. Brookhart about his second stringers and he mentioned Shawn Lemon, Wallace Pendleton, Viktor Rajek and Mitchell Magloire, who is listed as a linebacker.
On the horizon for the fall are 2007 signee Joe Rash and possibly two unsigned freshmen, Brookhart said. The coach has even given offensive lineman Zach Anderson a crack at d-line, and he didn't fare too badly.
"There's numbers," Brookhart said, "just some unknowns."
I whined a lot last year about the 3-3-5 defense against the non-traditional MAC teams (in other words, MAC teams don't rely on pass-only offenses). With the lack of established depth at DL, it's hard to dispute keeping the system in place, even as the league it was built to combat is evolving.
Notes:

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Position-by-position breakdown from GoZips

By mrasor Published: April 13, 2007

Football
J.D. Brookhart
talked in-depth about what he has seen so far in the spring on GoZips.com.
The ABJ's David Lee Morgan wrote a very compelling feature on Viktor Rajek, the receiver-turned-defensive lineman from Slovenia. It would be a huge boost if Rajek earned minutes next year.
Golf
I just read that a Zips golfer has won MAC Golfer of the Week in each of the season's first four tournaments.
The team is heading to Zionsville, Ind., this weekend for a duel with Wolf Run Golf Course, the 15th hardest track in the nation.
That may be true, but the Zips must be tested just playing their home course, Firestone Country Club, from the tips, especially if they're practicing in the summer right before the WGC event.
Men's soccer
Akron opened its spring exhibition season with a 0-0 tie against Cincinnati in blustry weather Thursday.
The GoZips.com article provides a good idea what the starting lineup might look like in the fall.

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Thursday practice notes

By mrasor Published: April 12, 2007

Football
Brion Stokes, Reggie Corner and Nate Robinson left practice early today on their own.
It was chaos.
Not really. Some players, particularly upperclassmen, are finding that their class schedules are conflicting with spring practice.
"You get disrupted," Brookhart said. "Those are the challenges with the spring."
Notes time...

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More offers

By mrasor Published: April 12, 2007

Football
Since we've last talked recruiting, Akron has made eight new scholarship offers.

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McCoy bolting, possibly to rival

By mrasor Published: April 11, 2007

Women's basketball
Niki McCoy
, the MAC's fifth-leading scorer, has left the team, with intentions to transfer, the Toledo Blade reports.
McCoy told the Blade she clashed with the new coaching staff.
Possible destinations include Ohio University, Bowling Green and Findlay.
Memo to Niki: You're not going pro. And it's only women's basketball. Enjoy sitting out a year and finishing your career coming off the Falcons' bench.

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Allen working through pain

By mrasor Published: April 11, 2007

Football
Alex Allen is back on the field, but his knee is still causing some discomfort.
David Lee Morgan wrote a feature about the Zips possible backup running back.

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Cawood's notes from spring practice

By mrasor Published: April 11, 2007

Football
Although I couldn't make it to practice today, Mike Cawood (head of media relations) did.
Here are some of his notes, which are not yet on GoZips.com...

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Be like the MVC

By mrasor Published: April 10, 2007

Men's basketball

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Grades crucial to team

By mrasor Published: April 10, 2007

Travis plays solid at Portsmouth

By mrasor Published: April 8, 2007

Men's basketball

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GoZips talks with both coordinators

By mrasor Published: April 7, 2007

Brookhart doesn't know about Harvey's future

By mrasor Published: April 6, 2007

Quarterbacks sit out with minor injuries

By mrasor Published: April 5, 2007

Zips finding surges in late innings

By mrasor Published: April 4, 2007

Alleman heads to Dallas

By mrasor Published: April 4, 2007

GoZips report from yesterday's practice

By mrasor Published: April 4, 2007

Fourth practice notes

By mrasor Published: April 3, 2007

Spring depth chart

By mrasor Published: April 3, 2007

What it's like to be a UA freshman

By mrasor Published: April 3, 2007

Pluto on the Zips

By mrasor Published: April 1, 2007

Men's basketball

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