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Several positions open at Rockets' camp

08/06/2016, 12:30am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Candle looking at spots on lines and backfields

Several positions open at Rockets' camp

The University of Toledo football team held its first practice of the season Thursday at the Glass Bowl. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

For the University of Toledo football coaches, fall camp is a time evaluate the talent on the team’s roster.

Surprise players can emerge and stake a claim to more playing time and even a starting job. Toledo’s latest pre-camp depth chart shows several position battles that could play out throughout the preseason.

Head coach Jason Candle said for a player to win a position battle in camp they need to be focused and opportunistic.

“You have to play your position to the best of your ability,” Candle said. “You have to pay attention to detail and take coaching.

“When your opportunities provide themselves you have to take advantage of them and seize them. I think the guys that do that will rise to the surface and ultimately those will be the guys we count on throughout the season.”

Here are some positions to watch in fall camp:

Center: Nate Jeppesen and Bryce Harris

The core of the offensive line is intact from last season with four of the five starting positions returning this season. The tackles are set with Storm Norton and Elijah Nkansah, as are the guards with Mike Ebert and Paul Perschon.

However, the departure of Florida State transfer Ruben Carter from last year's team leaves an opening at the center position.

Junior Nate Jeppesen has the most game experience, playing in seven games last year, including one start. The 6-foot-3 265 pound center also played in two games in a reserve role in 2014 before an injury left him out for the season.

Bryce Harris is a redshirt freshman from Akron Firestone High School. At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds he has good size for the position and was ranked a three-star prospect by ESPN coming into college.

Defensive end: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Zach Quinn

The defensive end position was hit hard by graduation from last season. Second team all-MAC performer Allen Covington and third-team all-MAC performer Trent Voss need to be replaced.

Senior John Stepec looks poised to step in as one of the defensive ends, leaving Adeniyi and Quinn to compete for the starting job at the other.

Adeniyi, a 6-foot-2, 252 pound sophomore, played in seven games in a back-up role and recorded three tackles in his redshirt freshman season.

Quinn, a 6-foot-3, 225 pound junior, appeared in 10 games last season and notched 10 tackles and a blocked kick. In 2014, he started three games and had 18 tackles on the season.

Strong safety: Connery Swift and Delando Johnson

Starter Chaz Whittaker is gone from last season, leaving seniors Swift and Johnson to compete for the starting spot.

Swift, a 5-foot-11, 198 pound former running back at the University of Virginia-Wise, played all 12 games last season and recorded 25 tackles. As a junior he played in all 13 games and started the final three games.

Johnson, at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, played in all 12 games last season and had 24 tackles, including a career-high 11 tackles against Eastern Michigan. He also played in all 13 games as a junior with 22 tackles on the season.

Cornerback: Jordan Martin, Kennedy Frazier, and Aaron Covington

Toledo lost senior cornerbacks Cheatham Norrils, Christian Dukes, and Juwan Haynes from last season. 

Trevon Mathis is the slated to start at one cornerback spot, leaving Martin, Frazier, and Covington to battle for the other starting spot.

Martin, a 6-foot-3, 206 pound junior, sat out all of the 2015 season because of a injury. In 2014, he started eight games at cornerback, despite missing three games that season because of a injury. He also played in 11 games as a freshman in 2013.

Frazier, a 6-foot-0, 190 pound junior played in seven games last season and made four tackles against Eastern Michigan. He also played in two games in 2014.

Covington, a 5-foot-9, 176 pound redshirt freshman, was first-team all-state in his junior and senior seasons at Armwood High School in Tampa, Florida and was rated as a three-star prospect out of high school.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo