BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb donned full gear for the first time this preseason, working through two crisp hours of practice Saturday morning.
A cooler, breezy morning heated up as the clouds burned off mid-morning and the action on the field followed that same script – as the team gathered for a period of tackling drills after the first half hour. Good competition was evident throughout that drill and the remainder of practice.
Gardner-Webb worked through its normal range of positional drills and dove more heavily into controlled scrimmage in team pass and team run periods. The offensive unit moved the football well on the ground at times, getting several long runs from a variety of backs.
After breaking for lunch, GWU will get back to the meeting rooms to review film as two-a-days loom on Monday. Sunday will involve more meeting time and a walk-through in the evening.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will hold its first two-a-day practices on Monday, with sessions scheduled for 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.
* Speedster Elijah Perry broke off a pair of long touchdown runs in team run period, with two coming right up the gut. The Apex, N.C., sophomore lowered his 40-yard dash time significantly this summer, turning in a 4.34-second time during training. His quickness and top-end speed work very well in Gardner-Webb's offensive scheme.
* The Runnin' Bulldogs have a veteran starting group up front on the offensive line, with center Caleb Smith (6-3, 328, R-Sr.), guard David Sutton (6-3, 303, R-Sr.) and tackles Will Millikan (6-3, 301, So.) and Charlie Eudy (6-2, 280, R-So.) all returning from last season. Brayden Briggs (6-3, 300, R-Fr.) has worked as the starter at right guard as expected with good results. One early surprise during camp has been the play of a newcomer, tackle Daniel Smith (6-4, 270, Fr.) who signed with Gardner-Webb in June. The former All-State lineman from Williston-Elko (S.C.) High has impressed the coaching staff thus far – and was a physical force during full-contact work early Saturday.
* The expectations of outside linebackers Aaron Cook (6-1, 235, Sr.) and Chad Geter (6-2, 253, R-Sr.) continue to be high and the pair has been up to the task so far in camp. Young inside linebackers Kenyatta Dunbar (5-11, 210, Jr.) and Jeffrey Pegues (6-0, 208, Jr.) have done their part to keep up, with Dunbar standing out early in Saturday's practice. Another inside linebacker, Corey Horne (6-0, 220, So.) has bulked up from his rookie campaign and continues to be a factor.