August 24, 2009

Freshman class could produce plenty of players in 2009

Golden Eagle Football Camp Notebook / Monday, Aug. 24

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Among the injured players watching from the sidelines last Saturday night when Tennessee Tech held its first fall scrimmage were juniors Taylor Askew and Andrew Higgins, both projected starters in the offensive line.

Their absence has meant opportunity is knocking on the door for a couple of newcomers, and both Michael Baker and Hunter Beedle have answered the call.

“We’re real excited about them,” Brown said. “We have two true freshmen in the two-deep of the offensive line right now, and they have a real good chance of playing.”

In fact, Brown said several true freshmen could surface in the two-deep lineup by the time the regular season arrives in less than three weeks.

Michael Baker is a 6-2, 245-pound walk-on freshman from Westmoreland (Tenn.) High School. Beedle is a 6-3, 280-pound freshman from Sullivan South High School in Kingsport, Tenn., and was among Tech’s signing class in the spring.

The Golden Eagles worked out twice on Monday, but Brown allowed his players to leave their pads in the dressing room and practice in shorts.

“We’re really beat up from Saturday night,” Brown explained. The team was scheduled to get out of pads for Wednesday’s practice, but the third-year coach moved up his plans a couple of days.
“We worked on correcting things in the morning, and we installed more in the afternoon,” Brown explained.

The team will be back on the field in pads Tuesday for its one practice, and then split the two practices on Wednesday. Tech will be in pads in Wednesday morning’s session and in shorts Wednesday afternoon.

Sophom ore Tim Benford was slowed Monday by back pains, forcing him to miss the afternoon practice.

Brown said Benford would be back in action Tuesday, but the same couldn’t be said for another Golden Eagle receiver.

Corey Watson (left) suffered a broken collarbone during the Saturday night scrimmage, and is expected to be sidelined for four weeks.




Battling for the backup role


Senior Lee Sweeney has locked up the starting assignment at quarterback and the battle is on for the backup role, according to Brown.

“Lee is the starter,” Brown said, “and the other three quarterbacks – Tre Lamb, Cass Barnes and Clint Brewster -- are battling for number two.”

Lamb and Barnes have an edge as returnees who were on hand for spring drills. Brewster, on the other hand, has some catching up to do, according to Brown.

“Clint is behind right now, and we’re trying to catch him up,” Brown said. “There’s no question about his ability. He’s a very talented young man. He’s just lost right now. He wasn’t here all summer so he didn’t have a chance to study any tape.

“A quarterback has got to know the system because it all happens so fast, and right now he’s late on things, he’s confused. He has a lot of talent, and there’s no doubt he will learn it.

“We thought when we signed him that he’d be here all summer, but he had some classes to finish up in California. Not being here has really hurt him,” Brown said. “Being here would have made a huge difference.”

Brown said by next spring, with Sweeney’s career completed, the competition between Brewster, Barnes and Lamb should be exceptionally close.

“Come next spring it will be real interesting,” Brown said.

The competitive battle between that threesome is something Brown looks forward to, but not anytime soon.

“Let’s hope that’s not something we have to deal with this year,” Brown said. “Let’s hope Lee stays healthy.”

The Golden Eagles open the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 10, hosting Pikeville College at 7 p.m. in Tucker Stadium. Season tickets are on sale online, or in the Athletics Ticket Office (931-372-3940).