August 15, 2012
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 15, 2012

Preseason Practice Update #9:

Specials Teams, also known as the Monarchs' "All-Star Unit", has almost its entire package installed at this point of the preseason with just a couple of more things to implement with the PAT Block Team tomorrow morning.

"We're taking a good, long look at a lot of our younger players to see who might be able to find a role on the All-Star Team," said Wilder. "It's one of the big factors in what we use in determining who dresses for home games and who travels for us to away games is the role that certain players will have on the All-Star Team."

"They all know the rule, in order to start on the offense or defense, you have to start as an All-Star. That's everybody," with Wilder noting it applies even to veterans such as captains Craig Wilkins, Chris Burnette, and Taylor Heinicke.

The coaching staff was also pleased with Jonathan Plisco's efforts in Monday's scrimmage, who was hitting 60 to 65-yard bombs, and noted that Jarod Brown has been kicking the ball well and Rick Lovato has been excellent as the snapper.

"We're moving full speed ahead with the All-Star Team," Wilder said with a smile.

Not only do the Monarchs have to replace the numbers produced by three of their top defensive linemen, it's the leadership of former Monarchs Ronnie Cameron, Edmon McClam, and Chad King that has also required members of the line to step into those roles.

"They helped us a lot in teaching us how to be good leaders, play hard every play, and they handed that down to me, Chris (Burnette), and the other seniors on the d-line. We're trying keep it the same way and keep everyone together," said redshirt senior Erik Saylor and veteran of the line.

"Watching how hard they (Ronnie, Eddie, and Chad) worked made me more motivated," said Chris Burnette, one of the three 2012 captains. "I want to be the best at everything I do," noting when he was around the former Monarchs last season he tried to soak everything in like a sponge.

"They just taught me so much and I'm trying to use that with the younger guys, even the guys that have been around. I just tell them what I know and what was passed down to me."

Preston Smith has also noted the leadership brought on not only by Saylor and Burnette, but defensive end Alex Arain. Smith who is looking to be among this year's starters mentioned, "They're bringing me into their unit and I feel real comfortable knowing those three are beside me. "

"We are one," chimed in Saylor.

"Some of the younger guys are progressing very well," said Wilder of the defensive line.

Of note was Preston Smith, who spent the last two seasons behind Edmon McClam, as well as Nate Barnes and Dominique Guinn-Bailey who the coaching staff feels are ready to step into roles this year after primarily serving as back-ups.

From the point of view of the defensive line, Saylor was pleased with the line's focus but still preaching fundamentals. "We got after that today and yesterday with our tackling circuits," he was quick to note.

Burnette noted the line's physicality and getting to the quarterback.

"Everybody was playing fast and physical and that's one thing Coach Dee has been preaching to us. We had a few missed tackles here and there but we've been doing a lot of tackles circuits as of late, so all those things can be fixed," noted Burnette.

The Monarchs ended Wednesday's practice with another two-minute drill. However, unlike yesterday, it was the defense picking up the stop.

The defense forced third and 10 before the offense was able to move the chains. Shortly there after though safety Paul Morant picked off Nate Ong's pass to end the day's drills. Linebacker Rob Mahan was also in the mix during the drill interrupting passes.

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The Football Monarchs return to early morning practice with the freshmen attending ODU orientation later in day.