March 25, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- UAB head football coach Garrick McGee spent time with local media on Monday, just two days before his team opens up spring practice on the UAB campus.
The Blazers begin the practice slate on Wednesday and will stay on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday schedule each week leading up to the 2013 UAB Spring Game, which will be played at the West Campus Field on April 27.
McGee discussed several topics at Monday’s press conference, including his team’s offseason conditioning program and what he hopes to accomplish in his second season as a head coach.
“What we talk about as a program is planting a seed in the ground, which is what we did last season,” McGee said. “You nurture that seed with the right stuff. There is no evidence that the seed is growing; you just have to have faith because of the nurturing of that seed. Our players are bigger, faster, and stronger, they are going to class, the team GPA is up. They understand the standard of excellence that I have. You plant that seed, you give it time, and you harvest it.”
According to McGee, the Blazers will have several position changes going into the 2013 spring drills. Sophomore Roscoe Byrd, who played defensive tackle in 2012, will move to the offensive line, while junior Jay Davis will move over from his wide receiver spot to play safety in the UAB defensive backfield.
Other Blazers who will move positions this spring will be sophomore Nyiakki Height, who will transition from safety to wide receiver, and redshirt freshman Steve Pickren, who will move from tight end to defensive end.
Returning from injury this spring will be junior tight end Nolen Smith and senior linebacker Daniel White. Smith, a native of Oneonta, Ala., saw action in all 12 games in 2011 and finished with 19 receptions. His 14.4 yards per catch average was the second-best total on the team in that season, before a knee injury sidelined him in 2012. White, an Apopka, Fla., native, started nine games in 2010 and finished fourth on the team in tackles with 55 stops.
McGee also announced players who will be limited during spring practice due to injury. That list includes sophomore running back Bashr Coles, sophomore cornerback Darius Powell, sophomore linebacker Shaquille Roberson, senior safety Cortez Webb, junior defensive end Diaheem Watkins and senior linebacker Jesse Parrish.
Part of UAB’s success in 2013 also depends on replacing Marvin Burdette, the nation’s leading tackler a season ago. McGee says it starts with playing better as a defensive unit.
“What we need is to play a better overall team defense, McGee said. “We’re not necessarily thinking about replacing Marvin and what he did individually, we’re talking about playing a better brand of team defense, a faster brand of defense, a more competitive defense.”
This week’s practice schedule is the first of five weeks on the practice slate leading up the spring game.