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What caught my eye at Day 4 of KU football's fall camp
Sunday at Kansas University football camp marked the final day of practice without full pads, but you would've never known it by the hitting going on out there.
I spent the bulk of my time at practice with the defensive line, which spent most of the early portion of practice working on stripping the ball and securing it. Obviously, it's not a ground-breaking drill but the way these guys were getting after it made it seem pretty intense.
Credit assistant coaches Dave Campo and Scott Vestal — both secondary coaches — for turning up the intensity with their verbal encouragement. Both were almost as loud as possible throughout the drill and the D-Linemen responded with some serious crunches and all-out effort, particularly in trying to recover the ball once it was ripped out.
Here's a quick look at what else caught my eye on Day 4:
• Since he arrived during the later part of practice on Saturday, Sunday marked my first up-close look at juco transfer Pearce Slater, a tackle who has a chance to compete for a job at right tackle. First of all, the guy's a load. He's as big as Aslam Sterling was when he got here last year, but with three inches on Sterling, his 380 pounds seems to be distributed a little better. Don't get me wrong, there's work to do to get him in Scott Holsopple shape, but he does seem to be starting from a pretty good place. He moves well and does not appear to be afraid to work. Getting him in camp after repeated attempts by the coaches at Oklahoma to swipe him away may go down as the most important thing that happens during August. KU coach Charlie Weis spent some extended time with Slater during stretching and warm-ups. Because Slater arrived a couple of days late, he'll be a couple of days late getting in full pads. That'll be a sight.
• Slater went through some drills with the first unit and went through others with the third unit. Again, he's got some catching up to do, but he certainly looks the part. So, too, does Zach Fondal, who continues to impress me each time I see him. Who knows which of those guys — if either — will play a huge role this season, but the tackle position for the next couple of seasons at least appears to be in good shape.
• It's still too early — and we haven't quite seen enough of practice — to dive into the battles going on, but I was told today that Jake Love and Samson Faifili are in a heck of a showdown at Will linebacker. I think I've said this before, but if Love holds off Faifili for that job, he'll have achieved something serious. Faifili is, in many ways, on a different planet than most guys out there. He's physical, always turned up and seems to have good speed, good instincts and always gives great effort. He's got a chance to be a fan-favorite.
• One thing I asked Dave Campo to clarify for me today was the role played by Cassius Sendish. Right now, Sendish, a safety who opened the spring as a cornerback and is currently listed as the first-string nickel back, is essentially a player who gives the KU defense three players worth of depth in one body. But he's not listed at nickel back because they don't have anyone else to play there. He's listed there because that's the spot they can use him in the most versatile manner possible. That puts some pressure on the corners and safeties to step up because, if they do, they'll leave Sendish at nickel, which is his most valuable spot. If there's so much as a hint of weakness at one of those four other secondary positions, though, I think the coaches may move Sendish there in a heartbeat. That's something to keep an eye on throughout camp and I'll look closer at the DBs next time out.
• Finally, the music failed at practice today so for most of the 20 minutes we could hear everything a little better than normal. While that was pretty cool, it also felt a little like being in someone's living room while they were taking a nap in the next room. I just kind of wanted to sit there and not draw too much attention to myself. The music disappeared for good during the Coach Weis song of the day (It's My Life, by Bon Jovi) and instead of just giving up on it, the players carried out the song acapella – or at least they tried to. Not bad. But, fortunately for everyone within ear shot, most didn't know all the words so it faded out.