Sophomore Nate Childress had quite a wake-up call in coming to the University of Toledo from Rossford High.
Right away, taking reps alongside Treyvon Hester at defensive tackle was unlike anything he had seen at the high school level.
“He was a beast, and he came into practice every day and worked hard,” Childress said of Hester, who is now in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.
Childress was injured in his senior season at Rossford and redshirted his freshman year at UT, so he hadn’t had real game action for more than two years. But he did contribute last season as a redshirt freshman, playing 12 games and recording eight tackles.
“Last year I had to play my role being a backup and coming in and getting any snaps I could get,” Childress said. “When I got those snaps, I had to take advantage of them. I feel like I did that, and hopefully this year I will continue to progress and keep getting more and more snaps.”
Keeping up with the pace of the college game was an adjustment for Childress.
“It definitely was a lot different than high school,” Childress said. “The players are bigger, stronger, and faster, and you just have to bring your ‘A’ game every play. If not, you are going to get knocked on your toes.”
BERG SHINES IN CAMP: St. John’s Jesuit graduate Mitch Berg has wasted little time impressing UT offensive line coach Mike Hallett. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound freshman has been a standout performer early on in camp.
“He’s really done a great job of attending to his details,” Hallett said. “While he still has some fundamental things to work on, conceptually he’s really catching on to what we are trying to do. He’s been really good.”
Hallett said freshmen Kelvin Ateman and Woodford Lankford also have done well in camp. “Every guy is fitting his role and finding his pieces of the puzzle,” Hallett said.
YOUTH AT LINEBACKER: Senior Ja’Wuan Woodley is the leader of UT’s linebacker group, and he wants to leave an impression on the younger players, who are the future of the defense.
With redshirt freshman Tre’Shun Wilson and true freshmen AJ Crider and Tadarrius Patterson, the future is bright at the position.
“We have some new freshmen that are eager to get on the field,” Woodley said. “I just want to get these young guys ready and pass the torch on. I’m not going to be here next year, but I still want this program to do good. I still put it on myself to come out and be the best leader I can.”
CLARK STANDS OUT: While much of the attention at cornerback will be placed on returning starters Trevon Mathis and Ka’dar Hollman, first-year cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat has had his eye on Justin Clark since coming to Toledo from Kent State.
Clark, a redshirt freshman from West Bloomfield High, is listed as No. 2 at cornerback on the preseason depth chart.
“He’s really grown throughout the spring,” Poteat said. “He’s a guy who loves to compete. “He’s tough mentally and he’s not afraid of anybody. He likes to get right in your face and challenge you. He’s very smart football-wise and in school. As he continues to get more reps, he will be a good football player for us.”
Childress UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO
Nick Fish, 14, of Oak Harbor and UT football players head for the end zone during the fourth annual Victory Day for special needs students at the Glass Bowl on Saturday. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON