After a brief break for finals and spring break, the Ducks returned to practice in preparation for the April 21 spring game.
“We kind of want to pick up where we left off,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “Again, that temperature is going to be turned up a little bit both from a football standpoint, culture standpoint and from a temperature standpoint. It will be a good thing for all of us.”
One unit that has been enjoying competition and is looking forward to getting back on the field is the wide receivers.
The three returners that played a big role last season are projected starters Dillon Mitchell, Johnny Johnson III and Brenden Schooler.
“I know Dillon Mitchell is a guy that we’re looking forward to stepping up and playing a big role,” wide receivers coach Michael Johnson said.
With a year under his belt, junior Brenden Schooler will continue to play at wide receiver and sophomore Johnny Johnson has lost 16 pounds.
“He’s a little smoother, faster, quicker and still the same aggressive guy he’s always been,” Johnson said. “I’m just excited about the entire group from the bottom up.”
With Charles Nelson now gone, Johnson expects junior Dillon Mitchell to run with the No. 1 role.
“It’s like any other position,” Johnson said. “If you’re gonna be the number one guy, you have to be a guy we can count on each and every week and it starts with habits. … The older they get, the more they are able to handle that situation.”
Mitchell has been taking advantage of his coaches, listening for anything that can improve his game.
“[I] mostly have been staying in the coach’s ear,” Mitchell said. “Finding out stuff I can do well and stuff I can improve on. Finishing is a big thing coach Cristobal and coach Johnson have been on. Especially being around a program like Alabama. Coach Cristobal, he knows about finishing. That is something those guys do well and we should incorporate that into our play.”
Three younger players looking to contribute are sophomore Jaylon Redd, redshirt freshmen Daewood Davis and Demetri Burch and early-enrollee Jalen Hall.
Hall might have missed the first half of spring ball, but that doesn’t worry Cristobal. The 6-foot-4-inch freshman from Long Beach, California, is expected to “swim” right away.
“He’s gonna be swimming regardless,” Cristobal said. “At least he is swimming on day one install as opposed to day six. … The receivers in general have had a really strong spring. The benefit of having a veteran quarterback certainly helps out.”
Hall has already gone to work to catch up on what he missed, studying the playbook with coach Johnson.
“We went over about four installations yesterday,” Johnson said. “That’s about 120 plays that are all gonna get crammed into one. So I’ll be behind him and kind of guide him a bit, but we’re just gonna throw him in there and let him get his feet wet. He’s eager to be here.”
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