Rams using spring

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Mar 262002
 
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Don’t take these practices lightly. There’s some serious competition out there.

And that’s what spring practice for the CSU football team is meant for.

The Rams may not play a regular season game for another five months now, but preparation can never come too early.

Some players were lost to graduation and some players are returning from injuries, so the CSU coaching staff has a lot to figure out in the 15 practices it is allotted for spring ball. It’s wasting no time.

With the exit of starting safeties Aaron Sprague and Jason Gallimore, backup safety Ameer Lowe and cornerback Justin Gallimore, the secondary is a focal point.

Defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders is essentially set at cornerback, with junior-to-be Dexter Wynn returning to his starting position and senior Rhett Nelson filling in for Justin Gallimore. But the safety spots are a bit more of a mystery.

Sanders has a pool of about seven guys from which he wants to find the best three or four. Front-runners appear to be junior Rahsaan Sanders for the free safety position and senior David Vickers for the strong safety spot. Coach Sanders said junior transfer Travis Campbell is included in that mix as well.

The interesting fact about Rahsaan Sanders and Vickers, though, is that both are trying the secondary for the first time in college.

Sanders missed all of last season with a severe hamstring strain he suffered as a running back. Because of the currently deep corps of running backs for CSU, Sanders accepted an offer to switch to the defensive side of the ball to be on the field more often.

“He’s been very eager,” Marvin Sanders said of Rahsaan, “and that’s never really been an issue because he’s a young man that will do anything to help this football team win. … If it’s play nose tackle, Rahsaan would say ‘OK’ and have the same attitude.”

Much of the same can be said about Vickers. As a linebacker last year, Vickers started the first two games, but went down with a knee sprain that caused him to sit out five games.

When he returned, a solid trio of sophomore linebackers (Drew Wood, Eric Pauly and Adam Wade) had been established. He did not start again until the regular season finale when Wood was hurt.

Vickers, too, was offered a position change and, like Rahsaan Sanders, he willingly accepted. Both Vickers and Sanders played some safety in high school.

“One thing about Vickers is he’s a gamer,” coach Sanders said. “He’s a kid that I don’t care how big or how fast he is, David Vickers is going to be in there and help you win some football games. Plain and simple.”

For Vickers, his goal is plain and simple. He knows he has solid competition, and he knows he has work to do before he can wrap up a starting position. But he knows that’s what he wants.

“I’m trying to start next year,” he said. “That’s my goal coming into this spring and I think if I was just trying to do what the coaches want, I would just be selling myself short. My main objective is to come out of here with the starting strong safety position.”

Definite starting jobs probably won’t be determined until the fall, but spring ball is where coaches say they get their best looks.

Without the preparation of an upcoming game to worry about, the spring is all about filling holes and getting the right guys in the right spots.

The temperature isn’t the only thing heating up. n

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