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February 8, 2013

Spring practice in sight




Tulsa football has announced its spring practice dates. The Golden Hurricane will return 11 starters in 2013, including eight on offense and three on defense, from a team that finished 11-3 in 2012.

TU will look to continue its success after winning the Conference USA Championship and the 54th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl last season.

The Hurricane will begin spring drills with seven practices before spring break and then eight more sessions following the week off. TU will take the field for the first time this spring on Tuesday, March 5th, practicing mostly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The Annual Spring Game will take place on Saturday April 6th.

TU loses eight starters on the defensive side of the ball and will be looking to fill those holes in the spring, although the Hurricane does return two of its top four tacklers in linebacker Shawn Jackson and safety Marco Nelson.

"It will be a quick turnaround from when we played in the bowl game, but I believe successful programs sustain success because you've practiced for the Bowl game, and then less than two months later you're in spring drills," said Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship. "We'll have to focus on some certain areas of our team. We have a lot of nice returning players, but we have some big holes to fill, especially on defense.

"I do like, however, that we were able to get quite a few of the younger players some valuable playing experience last year and have also been fortunate to redshirt well the last two signing classes."

The defensive front is the hardest hit with all four starters gone, and TU will also be replacing a linebacker, two cornerbacks and a safety.

"We lose all four starters on the defensive line and need to find a replacement for our leading tackler and best playmaker, DeAundre Brown, at linebacker, as well as replace three defensive backs," Blankenship explained. "On the line, we have depth coming back with Brentom Todd, Derrick Alexander and Derrick Luetjen seeing a lot of playing time in 2012. Shawn Jackson and Trent Martin return as starters, while Mitchell Osborne and DeWitt Jennings saw a lot of action at linebacker too. In the secondary, Michael Mudoh, Luke Snider, Dwight Dobbins and Darrell Williams are guys who played good minutes."

On offense, TU welcomes back its top two running backs in Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas, as well as starting quarterback Cody Green and top receivers Keyarris Garrett, Jordan James and Thomas Roberson.

However, the Hurricane will have to fill holes at three of the five offensive line spots after losing all-Conference USA tackles Jared Grigg and Brian DeShane and four-year starting center Trent Dupy.

"We have to replace the three starters on the offensive line, but in some cases we were able to get a little glimpse and build some depth when we lost Brian DeShane and had to play the Conference Championship game and the bowl game without him," Blankenship described. "Garrett Stafford did a marvelous job of moving into that role. The offensive front is also another area that we have been able to build depth. We played every game consistently with eight offensive linemen, so five of those guys are back plus a whole bevy of redshirt guys.

"It's exciting to have Cody (Green) return at quarterback. Trey (Watts) and J.T. (Douglas) really gives us strength in the backfield and our receiving corps is solid with our starting crew from last year returning."

During spring practice, Tulsa will welcome a mid-term enrollee, receiver Keevan Lucas, and three grayshirts that enrolled in January -- DB Johnell Celistan, DE Garrett McGrady, LB Rob Riederer and LB Craig Suits

"We're excited to get spring drills underway," Blankenship added. "We'll have a lot of good competition. The bulk of our team going into the 2013 season will be set coming out of the spring drills, and then we'd be fortunate to have two or three freshmen make an impact on the two-deep in the fall."

2013 TULSA SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE

MARCH
5th (Tuesday)
7th (Thursday)
8th (Friday)
9th (Saturday)
12th (Tuesday)
13th (Wednesday)
14th (Thursday)
SPRING BREAK
26th (Tuesday)
28th (Thursday)
29th (Friday)
30th (Saturday)

APRIL
2nd (Tuesday)
4th (Thursday)
5th (Friday)
6th (Saturday) SPRING GAME



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