The Dores don full pads tomorrow, and Coach Franklin says that’s when “some guys will show up” and “some guys will disappear.” That didn’t stop him from assessing the progress of players so far.
Here are some players he highlighted at the end of Tuesday’s practice:
• R-JR TE Austin Monahan is healthy for the first time in three years, but Franklin said it’ll take preseason camp for him to build confidence in his repaired knee. Franklin’s fully aware that Monahan started ahead of Barden back in the day and he seems excited about using both of them in formations.
• R-FR WR Chris Boyd has done “some nice things” and is a candidate to join sophomores Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause in the starting lineup, but Franklin lists the receivers, particularly depth, as a “position of concern of mine” and said the lack of playmakers there could “limit what we’d like to do offensively.” “We need some guys to step up,” he said.
• R-JR Josh Jelesky is adjusting well to his move to the offensive line from defensive tackle. Franklin said he wasn’t sure how much Jelesky would help the offensive line but that he is “fighting for a starting job right now.” I’d be really surprised if Jelesky goes from a third-string defensive tackle to a starting offensive linemen in the SEC in less than a month, but we’ll see.
• FR DT Barron Dixon is performing well so far, and likely helped coaches decide to move Jelesky to offensive line.
• R-FR DT Vince Taylor “has matured significantly since spring.” Franklin said he’s still learning but he’s a “very talented guy” who “looks like he’s 255 but he’s 295 and carries it well.”
• FR DE/LB Darien Bryant has “intrigued” Franklin and his staff. He’s “a long, angular, athletic kid who can really run.” Primarily evaluated as a tight end by recruiting services, Bryant looks stouter than his listed 6-foot-4, 220 pounds.
• FR S Andrew Williamson has emerged as the most impressive and game-ready of the four or five true freshmen defensive backs. He was a two-star recruit who’s been an afterthought so far in any discussions about freshman contributors, but Franklin said he’s “further ahead” than three-star safeties Larry Franklin and Jahmel McIntosh and hotshot cornerback Derek King, the Brentwood product who had an offer from Auburn and who Franklin says “doesn’t look like a freshman.”
• Speaking of freshmen coming from nowhere, Spencer Pulley is the most impressive of the true freshmen offensive linemen so far despite being overshadowed by James Lewis, Jake Bernstein and even Jose Valedon. Franklin said he’s like to redshirt Pulley if he could but that he might be pressed into duty sometime during the season, which is what happened to Logan Stewart last year. Pulley got two stars from Scout and ESPN, while Lewis and Bernstein were consensus three star guys.
• FR OL Jake Bernstein is the other offensive lineman who has the best chance of seeing action as a true freshman, Franklin said. Meanwhile, James Lewis, who looks massive, is hobbled on the sideline with an injured foot.
But get ready for new names and faces after the hitting starts tomorrow.