Annual spring game to showcase new talent

Brandon Wise/Asst. Sports Director

With the end of the semester fast approaching, so is the end of spring practices. Players are scrambling to try and wrap up their semesters with grades and the final week of practice. But with that comes the last chance before summer workouts to prove to head coach Mario Cristobal and the rest of his staff that they deserve playing time next year. Guys like Lorenzo Hammonds have gone a long way in proving to Cristobal that he is going to compete for the quarterback position.

“Jake [Medlock] has certainly separated himself, he’s just getting better and better,” Cristobal said. “But those two guys [E.J. Hilliard and Lorenzo Hammonds] are battling right now with Akil [Dan-Fodio] just behind him.”

“I’m really proud of Lorenzo Hammonds because we had moved E.J. up a little bit and gave him more reps. Then Lorenzo came out with his back against the wall and he performed well again in the two-minute drill.”

Medlock had the opportunity to show himself a bit last year, flashing signs of trying to put his head through a linebacker. Now, Medlock says that he’s learned his lesson a bit.

“No, the only time I’m going to do that is when it’s fourth and inches and it’s a major part of the game,” Medlock said. “I got this new quote that says ‘First down, touchdown, get down.’ That’s my new motto.”

I even practiced sliding in the last scrimmage. I’m just not going to try and kill anyone because I got to last this whole season.”

Back when he used to play baseball, Medlock joked that he would always slide headfirst, not feet first. After sustaining the injury last fall to his deltoid, Medlock believes that he is at about 90 percent healthy and continues to work hard everyday to improve it.

“I got most of my sensation back in my deltoid,” Medlock said. “But I’m working hard in the training room, I’m working hard in the weight room, and I’m doing extras in my room.”

Not only has the quarterback been a huge topic of discussion this spring, but also the two transfers from last season, James Louis and Daquan Hargrett. The two came in last year midseason and were not able to participate due to NCAA rules. However, Cristobal is really excited about what he has seen from the two so far.

“This past week they’ve really come on,” Cristobal said. “You got to remember that they got here so late last year that they never really went through camp.  So they hit the ground running and had to run the scout teams for us. Both have made some nice plays for us this past week, we expect them both to be good contributors for us.”

Not only has the offense improved throughout the spring, but also the defense has taken another step toward getting better. Senior defensive back Jonathan Cyprien thinks that the unit has a lot to look forward to. “We’re taking some big steps, we’ve got a lot of senior leadership,” Cyprien said. “As a defense, we’re coming out with the mindset of dominating no matter who the opponent is.

We know were all on the same team, but on Friday we’re playing against each other just like it’s a game.”

The team as a whole was left with a bitter taste in its mouth after their loss in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s bowl last December to Marshall. But Cristobal has seen the hard work paying off in the weight room from his players.

“This offseason, we made a commitment to attacking the day, really attacking every rep, and that’s really carried over,” Cristobal said.

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