Football Newcomers Pass the Eye Test
Aug. 6, 2002
TUCSON - Arizona head football coach John Mackovic was pleased with the first day of fall camp held with 27 newcomers Tuesday as the Wildcats began preparations for the arrival of the veterans later this week.
'The guys looked good,' were the first words after a morning practice from Mackovic, who's entering his second year in Tucson.
'We worked on the basics -- stances, the huddle, the snap -- to get them familiar with the way we practice,' he said. 'The big guys move around well. You don't want totem poles and it looks like we have some big people who can move.'
Freshman punter Danny Baugher of Phoenix, the USA Today national prep punter of the year in 2001, was particularly impressive in kicking drills which finished the 90-minute morning workout. He boomed nearly a dozen punts in the 42- to 48-yard range, with hang times clocked by coaches in the 4.5 to 5.0 second range.
'He's the real deal,' Mackovic said, and also cited freshmen defensive end Marcus Smith and safety Lamon Means, and junior college transfer defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki, among others. 'We needed powerful people and Carl is a big man.' Tuitavuki measured in at 6-foot-3, 350 pounds at Monday's physical exam. Four freshman offensive linemen -- Tanner Bell, Kili Lefotu, John Parada and Keith Jackson each are in the 6-foot-7, 300-pound category.
Defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff said Baugher has several attributes coaches liked when evaluating nearly 50 potential kickers during recruiting season. 'He has good hands, consistency and technique, and a very strong leg. Plus he's a football player -- he was a high school running back and linebacker -- so he's had to train and has some toughness. He has the tools and demeanor to contend for the job,' Mac Duff said.
Mackovic noted UA did not recruit scholarship specialists a year ago, but waited 'until we found the kinds of people we wanted,' citing Baugher and Nick Folk, another freshman kicker also in camp. Folk is expected to emphasize place kicking.
UA's two-year letterman punter, junior Ramey Peru, will report Thursday afternoon with the returning veterans. He averaged 37.9 yards on 60 punts in 2001.
Freshman halfback Beau Carr and freshman defensive end Paul Philipp were held out of action. Carr is undergoing further medical tests and Philipp had arthroscopic knee surgery recently and is out indefinitely.
The Arizona rookies were to practice again Tuesday night, then repeat the two-a-day sessions again on Wednesday before taking a day off for more orientation when the veterans players report Thursday.