A little housekeeping is in order with respect to the University of Akron football roster.
You can’t tell who the players are without a scorecard, or, in this case, a roster that needs changes seemingly every second.
But within the list of those who have transferred to UA, there’s a ray of hope that they will provide some depth and contribute to the team on whatever side of the ball they play.
For those who held their breath because they weren’t sure whether Nick Hirschman, a quarterback transfer from Colorado, would arrive at UA, it’s OK to breathe now.
Wearing No. 15, Hirschman threw the ball in practice as part of a quarterback unit that is almost entirely revamped other than the presence of expected starter, 6-foot-3 sophomore Kyle Pohl.
Even though Hirschman is expected to provide Pohl with some competition, he might not be the Zips’ biggest catch — literally and figuratively — in the offseason.
“We have more numbers on the interior offensive and defensive lines,” coach Terry Bowden said. “That doesn’t mean anything other than it’s harder to see the quarterback.”
Walk onto the field at InfoCision Stadium and one thing is completely clear: Bowden and his staff aren’t building a team of Smurfs.
They’re actively working to improve not only depth, but size as well.
Two transfers from Florida State can’t help but draw attention. Henry Orelus, all 6-foot-3, 331 pounds of him, adds depth to the offensive line. In Moses McCray, they have a 6-foot-2 mini mountain who plays fast.
It doesn’t stop there. Though he didn’t practice, the Zips also added 6-foot-6 defensive end Nmesoma Okafor from Nassau Community College in New York. Okafor reportedly runs a 4.7 second 40-yard dash.
All of that size will be needed, especially defensively.
Beyond the Zips’ starters, the defensive line proved problematic last season and even more so when defensive end Albert Presley and defensive tackle Nico Caponi went down with injuries.
Still, associate head coach and defensive coordinator Chuck Amato is optimistic.
“That’s what I think we have that we didn’t have a year ago,” he said after Friday’s practice. “We can rotate people, especially up front. Whether they’re first [team] or second, they look as if they’ve played and I think that’s going to help us tremendously.”
Sensing a difference
“I don’t know if it’s the level of enthusiasm,” Bowden said. “They know what to do. We have a lot more guys who know what we ask in practice, what our practices are like, what we require as far as the execution of drills, so it’s a lot smoother a year later.”
The punter, too
Believe it or not, the injection of size extends to Joel McLellan, a punter from Australia who will try to challenge for that job. McLellen is listed at 6-foot-7 and looks every bit of it. McLellan, whose remaining eligibility is yet to be determined, spent six months working on his technique at ProKick Australia, according to its website. It probably makes sense for an Aussie to begin his American football career at a college that has a kangaroo for a mascot.
Freshman linebackers Jerome Lane (Firestone High School) and Deon’Tae Moore (Kenmore) are expected to be academic nonqualifiers when the roster is finalized at the end of camp. They are allowed a 21-day temporary certification period in which they can practice with the team, but will sit out the 2013 season. Lavonne Gauthney, another member of the class of 2013, though not in camp, faces the same restriction.
On the field
In his first carry in practice against the second-team defense, Conor Hundley ripped off a touchdown run. … Hirschman found running back Tyler Williams for a touchdown. … C.J. James, who sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, showed some serious speed off the edge while rushing the quarterback, getting to Pohl a couple of times.
McCray was singled out twice for his practice efforts.
The Zips’ offensive line could add more depth and size if Zenel Demhasaj, a 6-foot-7, 325-pounder who last played at Pitt, gets an extension on his wait for eligibility waiver from the NCAA.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.