LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Tuesday's first practice in full pads didn't lack any excitement as the McNeese Cowboys prepare for the 2014 football season and working toward the first scrimmage of fall camp this Saturday evening at 6 p.m.
After a pre-practice walk-thru, the defensive unit held what is called the "Pit Bull" drill, a type of one-on-one session. The final two to face off - Ashari Goins of Monroe and Christian Jacobs from Houston, two freshmen linebackers, was billed by defensive coordinator Lance Guidry as "Texas vs. Louisiana." That set the rest of the defensive group into a frenzy which set the tone for the rest of the practice.
The defensive squad continues to impress, especially the young defensive backs that have shown their speed, quickness and physicality.
"We've created a lot of turnovers up to this point," said Guidry. "The effort is really, really good. We have some young DBs and some young backers. We only have one young defensive lineman. The experience, of course, is at the D-line with Kevin Dorn, Sean Brown and Everett Ellefsen, but everywhere else we have some youth and got some kids that can really run.
"(Freshman) Dominique Hill has been with us since the spring and has been the starting safety, the nickel, for us since the end of spring. He came into camp and is still the starter and leads the camp with five or six interceptions in five practices. At the corner position we have several kids that are playing right now. Freshman Kamon Darby is doing well. Tavarious Battiste is playing well. We have a kid at the buck safety (Josh) Washington is doing really well, then we have a safety Andre Fuller, is doing really well and has an interception in camp. I'm excited about these young kids."
Fortunately the Cowboys have some senior leadership in Dorn, Brown and Ellefsen as well as DB Aaron Sam, who takes it upon themselves to bring the youngsters along and take them under their wing.
"Aaron is the type of guy that practices and plays so hard," said Guidry. "I just tell the younger guys to imitate him, plus he helps out the safeties. We have a lot of people helping out the youth. They see the talent in them. We're going to try to get the best players on the field."
"Kamon, Battiste and Dominique Hill have really grown up over the past few days," said Sam, a preseason All-Southland Conference first team selection. "They're running the plays like they've been here over the years. They're moving fast. They're listening to what they're supposed to be doing. Listening to the coaches and to the tips that I give them. They really want to learn."
The Cowboys will return to the practice field in full pads at 4:30 on Wednesday.