|Posted April 7, 2008|
T-Wolves a hit in live scrimmage
Spring football practice
continues for the newly formed CSU-Pueblo team.
By JOE E. CERVI, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Seeing hundreds of fans in the stands at Dutch Clark Stadium is nothing new to Aaron Hernandez and Marco Macaluso.
The two former South High School football players competed in front of big crowds throughout their prep careers.
Sunday, the former Colts were just two of more than 65 players trying to earn a spot on the Colorado State University-Pueblo football team. And to the nearly 300 fans, parents, potential players and curious onlookers who attended Sunday's open spring football practice, Hernandez and Macaluso were almost as anonymous as the rest of the players.
The ThunderWolves, in pads for the second time in four practices, went through a series of live hitting drills. They devoted the last four five-minute periods to a live scrimmage.
The first-team offense cracked off 35 yards with a slant pass on the first play, but the defense eventually held.
Macaluso, competing for a spot in the T-Wolves secondary, came up with two interceptions. He said the college game is much more intense than at the high school level.
"You start out thinking that what you knew in high school was good enough. Then you get out here and every guy here is as good as you or better than you," Macaluso said. "You have to work a lot harder because you can't mess up on a single play. In high school you could get away with messing up. Here, that could be a touchdown, or worse, you get taken out of the game."
Macaluso attempted to walk on at the University of Northern Colorado out of high school. But he was sidelined by an injury and never stepped foot on the field for the Bears.
"All the (defensive) packages we had in high school would be like our base defense here," he said. "You have to learn so much and work so hard college football's like another job."
Hernandez, who transfered from Adams State College, is running with the first-team defense in the secondary.
"Every position out here is up for grabs," he said. "You just have to work hard, study and pay attention to your coaches. This is my second spring ball, so I kind of knew what to expect."
Former University of Colorado player Donnell Leomiti is the T-Wolves defensive backs coach. He was a standout at safety for the Buffaloes and said he is trying to develop a swagger among his charges.
"You get the swagger when you have confidence; you get the confidence when you know what you're doing," said Leomiti, who was the most energetic person - player or coach - on the field this week. "We're constantly teaching and we'll never stop teaching. Mainly what we're looking for are guys that can make plays.
"We look at a lot of film and we can tell who is getting better and who isn't. We can see who is working hard and who isn't. There are some guys who've made great improvements from the first practice to the fourth and some who haven't."
CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said he "saw some good things and some not-so-good things out there. It was good to get the pads popping. It was exciting to hear them announce that the concession stands were open. How many times do you hear that there are concessions during spring practice?"
Team worked through more than two hours in full pads. Several practice periods were devoted to live hitting. And they provided the most excitement.
"That's when you see who really wants to be here," Wristen said.
NOTES: Former Pueblo South running back Brodie White turned in his gear after practice Thursday. No reason was given as to why he left the team. . .Assistant coach Wayne McGinn missed practice Sunday because of a death in his family. . .All the practice pants worn by the ThunderWolves were donated by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos also donated shoes, gloves and other equipment. . .Practices this week are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. All practices are free and open to the public.