Gophers fall camp Day 8: 'U' gearing up for first scrimmage of camp
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Notes from Day 8 of fall camp
• No player on the Gophers football has received more preseason buzz than senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, and for good reason. While the Gophers have more depth on the D-line than one may think, Hageman is undoubtedly the unit's anchor.
As a result, the coaching staff is making sure to monitor Hageman's workload as fall camp goes on. The 6-foot-6, 311-pound tackle has reaffirmed the offseason praise from his coaches with a solid showing in the first week of camp. He will play in Saturday's scrimmage, but Kill may begin limiting some his reps in the leadup to the Aug. 29 season opener.
"He's done really well. He's had a very good camp," Kill said. "You can tell he's focused and doing what he needs to do. He's a much better player. There's no question about that. We just need to make sure he continues to work hard and stay healthy."
In the meantime, Hageman and the defense are gearing up for the scrimmage.
"There's a lot of high tensions right now between the O-line and D-line," Hageman said. "We're ready to get after each other right now."
• The competition for the starting cornerback spot opposite Derrick Wells, who has developed into the face of the "U" secondary, is still ongoing. But the depth at corner is starting to sort itself out.
Capitalizing on injuries in the spring, sophomore Eric Murray rose up take on first team reps and he has stayed in that spot since. Murray has been subject of high praise from the Kill and Co., although it has all been prefaced with the reminder that he still has to overcome a layer of rawness and inexperience.
Regardless, Murray has held on to his first team role through the first week of practice. But junior Briean Boddy is quietly mounting a strong case for the spot, which hasn't gone unnoticed by the defensive coaches, like coordinator Tracy Claeys.
Watch for Boddy to have major opportunity to get playing time this season, especially in nickel situations. Wells brings the physical, aggressive presence Claeys likes to have in a nickel corner in the box, who has the ability to blitz in, while Boddy can fit in well as the field corner.
Senior Jeremy Baltazar took first team reps early in the spring, but injury issues kept him off the field at times and resulted in moving him down the depth chart. Baltazar is healthy but still hasn't been able to make up the ground he lost in the spring.
Current projected depth chart at cornerback
1. Derrick Wells -- junior, 6-foot, 206-pound
2. Eric Murray -- sophomore, 6-0, 194
3. Briean Boddy -- junior, 5-11, 186
4. Martez Shabazz - senior, 5-11, 172
5. Jeremy Baltazar -- senior, 6-foot, 197
Nickel corner: Derrick Wells
• Freshman linebacker De'Niro Laster suffered a right knee injury on a cut-block in a goal line drill on Thursday. Kill insisted the injury is not major, but it will keep Laster, who was limping and had his knee heavily wrapped Friday, out of Saturday's scrimmage.
"At this point in time, the trainers think he could be back in five to six days. We'll see," Kill said.
• Offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig, running back James Gillum and wide receiver Devon Wright are also are expected to miss the scrimmage. Pirsig was cleared for full contact earlier in the week, but is slowly being worked back in.