The UAB football team took to the practice field for the first time this spring Wednesday as the Blazers opened their 2013 spring drills under cool, clear conditions.
Wednesday's workout was the first of 15 spring practices the Blazers will hold over the next month. Drills will culminate with the Spring Game on Saturday, April 27 at West Campus Field.
"It was really good to be out there," UAB head coach Garrick McGee said following the session that lasted nearly two hours. "We've done a lot of work in the offseason. I think they're all excited to get out there on the field and roll the balls out there.
"I felt a lot more comfortable," McGee said when asked if he felt different Wednesday than he did last March on the first day of spring practice when he was embarking on his first season as a head coach. "I was able to see a lot more things, it felt a lot smoother to me."
The first practice Wednesday was filled with a lot of energy from the players, many of whom saw significant action in 2012.
"These guys are the same team that we played with last year," McGee said. "We played so many young players last year. There are not really that many young players anymore on this roster.
"We played with 16 or 17 true freshmen last year and they played in multiple games. They have a better understanding of our system, they have a better understanding of the philosophy of coaching that I have and the way I expect things done."
McGee also announced that he filled the final vacant coaching spot on his staff with the hiring of Lehigh assistant Matt Sanders. Sanders, who coached inside linebackers at Lehigh, will be special teams coach and assistant secondary coach on the Blazers' staff.
Sanders was a student-athlete at Louisville where he played under current UAB defensive coordinator Reggie Johnson and was teammates with Blazer coaches Richard Owens and Brandon Sharp.
"I'm really excited about Matt joining our staff," McGee said. "He has a high level of energy and is a very intelligent football coach. He understands how to defend against the spread offense, the 4-wide, fast-breaking offense that we see so much in this conference."
"He really fits into our culture that we have developed. To add him, another guy that's pretty much in our family, I'm really pleased."
(courtesy: UAB Sports Information)
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