Spring football training begins at Roos Field

EWU+players+practice+at+Roos+Field+for+the+annual+Red-White+game+occuring+on+April+25.

Anna Mills

EWU players practice at Roos Field for the annual Red-White game occuring on April 25.

By Fetlew Gebreziabher, Online Sports Editor

Spring is in the air and so is football season. The Eagles spring practices began on April 2.

With nine starters departed and Vernon Adams Jr. transferring to the University of Oregon, EWU looks to keep its competitive identity with new role players, especially at the running back and linebacker position.

“[Running] back would be one of them, you know, where we lost two seniors in Quincy [Forte] and Mario [Brown], you know and Cody Hecker,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “Defensively, linebacker, where you lose a couple guys like, [Ronnie] Hamlin and [Cody] McCarthy, that’s another one where there are a couple starters and obviously Tevin McDonald. So, those are some positions that jump out, where we lost two guys at each of those spots that were big part of what we’ve done over the last couple of years.”

Baldwin said though it is just the first practice, the team will be looking for the fundamentals for most of spring practices to get the players to build that new chemistry on the field.

“Fundamentals become one of the biggest things in spring. I mean, scheme wise and things of that nature, they will come, but you have to have that foundation,” said Baldwin. “We talked about it, it’s like building a house or anything else, and you have to have that foundation.”

EWU will welcome back 48 letterwinners from last year’s Big Sky Conference championship team, but Baldwin and the coaching staff will be looking for the growth in the young players to step up.

With fundamentals being key during spring practices, the coaching staff also looks to see at the mental and physical growth of the underclassmen who will see more playing time come this fall.

The Eagles number two quarterback, Jordan West, looks to continue the dominant offensive force that Eastern has been the last three years behind Adams and is ready for to work his way into the number one position.

“[We’ve] been waiting on this ever since the season ended,” said West. “It’s just we’ve been working out, getting ready, and now it’s finally here for the time to get out on the red.“

West, who went 3-1 as a starter when Adams went out with a foot injury, said team meetings feel different with Adams gone, but said he is happy for Adam’s opportunity to play at Oregon.

“[It] changes a little bit, but, I mean we just got to move forward and everybody is doing a good job,” said West.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles look to fill the cleats of many players, like three-time All-American, Hamlin and McDonald at the safety position.

Senior defensive back Todd Raynes, a returning starter, looks to mentor his younger teammates to step up and step in.

“[Show] the younger guys the way, pretty much. I mean just talking to [Hamlin] he even said that some of the younger guys are going to have to step up and, you know, fill their shoes, and that’s definitely a big task to do. But, I think that they’re able to do it,” said Raynes.

The Eagles led the FSC in scoring at 44.1 points per game and set records in points and touchdowns last season. However, the Eagles defense gave up a near 32 points per game and 442 yards.

“I think there are little things within our defense, though, that, you know, that we’re going to see that we’re going to have to figure out on the run, too, is the best thing I can say,” said Baldwin. “Standing here today, I may not even know yet, because we don’t know what the 2015 team is going to bring. This is practice one and that’s kind of what practice is for, so you can find your identity, so you can figure things out.”

The annual Red-White Game will kick-off on April 25 at 2 p.m. at Roos Field.