In my last post I mentioned that there wasn't much experience at the DE position. Looking over the roster now I see that the majority of players were on the field last year.
Eugene Taylor: Coming back for his Sr. year, this kid may have a good one. I had expected Gene to make a bigger impact when he first came on board from Oak Grove HS. It's taken him a long time to put on enough weight to compete at this level. Two years ago he got hurt in that awful loss to Fresno St. I saw that OT go right after his knee. I hope this year he'll have a sense of urgency in his final year. A few more pounds of muscle and he just might do it.
Nick Oreglia: Nick had flashes of greatness last year. He was the only DL to get to the QB, on a team that didn't have many sacks. He came in as a OL walkon from Willow Glen HS. This is the only good personnel change that RC has made as RC is clueless about the talent he has. Again, hopefully Nick will have improved greatly from last year and make a huge impact.
Isaiah Irving: This kid has gotten the most playing time of all the returning starters. I have no ideas why RC or the DC has placed such premium on Isaiah. I've seen him get eaten up by the Army Option, and too many times chasing plays down field. However, last year he did okay. Another Sr I hope he goes out with a bang, god knows he'll plenty of chances to prove himself.
Lukas Hendricks: This kid comes from a winning program. I'm very impressed that he's already put on about 20 lbs or more since leaving Folsom HS. He just might be able to replace one of the Sr on the front line and make a splash. If the weight gain is muscle strength he just may be the dominant DE the Spartans have been waiting for. If now this years in the years to follow.
Malik Hayes: Another intriguing player, Malik just hasn't progress as much as Lukas. Hopefully after Spring Practice this year he realizes that, and comes back with more weight and strength. He just may become the second piece to the bookend DEs along with Lukas Hendricks. It would be great to finally see Spartan DL disrupting the pocket like the sack years of the 90s.
Mikal Berry: Mikal is an example of my case against RC and his use of personnel. He seems like a big strong kid. If I were the HC I would just put him in a game if for no other reason that he take up space. At 6'6" I'm sure he would at least block the QB down field vision. Anyway, Mikal is the unknown factor in this group and who knows, he just might surprise.
Overall grade: C. I think we may have improved DL play this year. The DC will have to prove himself and hopefully he inspires these boys to higher levels of performance. I see Nick, Eugene, and Isaiah playing most of the game and hope that Lukas and Malik develop as the season progresses and that Mikal pulls off a huge surprise.
Now for the DTs:
to be continued...
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