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New Spring Roles
Stewart Mandel
April 24, 2006
Some of the intriguing storylines coming out of April involve rehabbing stars and a few old hands in different positions
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April 24, 2006

New Spring Roles

Some of the intriguing storylines coming out of April involve rehabbing stars and a few old hands in different positions

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A.D.'S BACK IN GEAR: Time and again during Oklahoma's spring game, Adrian Peterson sprinted through the line for what would have been a long gain, but because he was wearing a noncontact jersey, the play was blown dead as soon as a defender touched him. So while the 2004 Heisman runner-up didn't get to rack up big numbers, he showed that the injuries that hampered him last spring (shoulder surgery) and much of the fall (ankle sprain) are behind him. In preparation for his junior season the 215-pound back focused on improving his pass-catching skills.

SEMINOLE TAKES CHARGE: Not since Chris Weinke's 2000 Heisman season has Florida State had a dependable quarterback, but Drew Weatherford, who as a redshirt freshman had an ACC-high 18 interceptions last fall, made it through three full scrimmages with only one pick. Weatherford, who was thrown into the fire in '05 after starter Wyatt Sexton was sidelined by Lyme disease, hit the film room regularly throughout the spring, and teammates were quick to notice that he has matured into a leader. "He could be the General, like they used to call Weinke and [1993 Heisman winner] Charlie Ward," says running back Lorenzo Booker.

BRACED FOR SUCCESS: Less than five months ago Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm lay on the turf clutching his right knee after being tackled by Syracuse's Kellen Pruitt. The damage: torn ACL, sprained patellar tendon, torn meniscus and a bruised bone. Visitors to spring workouts were stunned to see Brohm, the nation's No. 2-rated passer last season, running and throwing without pain, a black knee brace the only sign of his injury. The junior is a month ahead of schedule in his rehab (he's being held out of scrimmages) and expects to start in the Sept. 2 opener against Kentucky.

FRESH EYE OF THE HURRICANES: Miami coach Larry Coker's mandate to new offensive coordinator Rich Olson: "Get the ball in the hands of our playmakers." Olson, the Hurricanes' play-caller in 1994 before becoming an NFL assistant, has been tweaking the pro-style offense, which had a drop-off in production over the past two seasons. Olson was one of six new assistants hired by Coker, who shook up his staff after a 40-3 Peach Bowl loss to LSU.

NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH

?Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas: The 6'5", 220-pound redshirt freshman has taken on David Thomas's role of pass-catching tight end--four balls for 73 yards in the spring game.

? Mike Nixon, MLB, Arizona State: After spending four-plus years as a catcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, the 22-year-old freshman--a former UCLA signee--walked on in Tempe and is contending for a starting spot.

?Rendrick Taylor, WR, Clemson: Offensive coordinator Rob Spence created a new position, J-back (a hybrid of wide receiver, halfback, fullback and tight end), for the speedy sophomore, who turned a screen pass into a 97-yard TD in the spring game.

?Nehemiah Warrick, S, Michigan State: A transfer from Hutchinson ( Kans.) Community College, the cousin of former Florida State star Peter Warrick had a team-high eight tackles and an interception in the Spartans' first scrimmage.

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