PHILADELPHIA - With the first four practices in the books for the defending Ivy League champions, let's take a closer look at the progress of the spring football season after the first week.
Live Practice Updates
- Fans can follow every practice live via the Penn Football Twitter account. The Quakers staff has been active in updating the account with up-to-the-second information and pictures. In the first three practices this season, there have been 33 tweets, or an average of more than four per hour. So make sure to follow the team on twitter to be alerted of each update, or check back often.
Video of the Week
Click on the link atop this release to see the latest spring football report from the Penn Sports Network. Penn play-by-play announcer Brian Seltzer sits with fullback Luke DeLuca and offensive lineman Jared Mollenbeck in the Jack LeFort football office to discuss the Quakers' offense.
Week of Practice
Penn started the spring season on Tuesday under the lights of historic Franklin Field. With most of the first week focused more on fundamentals and less on hitting, the Quakers were in just helmets and shorts for their first three practices. Thursday and Friday marked the first of three scheduled back-to-back practice days this spring, while a sunny Sunday afternoon marked the first practice in sunlight and the first time the Quakers were able to really hit each other as they wore full pads. The weather cooperated throughout the week as the Quakers had nothing but warm weather and avoided the rain on each practice day.
- The Quakers seem to be as healthy as they can be after the first week of practice. There have been no major injuries and only good news to report. After missing most if not all of last season due to injury, offensive lineman Drew Luongo, tight end Ryan Murray, wide receiver Ryan Calvert, quarterback Billy Ragone, and defensive linemen Jake Peterson, are all back on the field for the Red and Blue.
- With the addition of Ragone, this now marks the first time in three years that the Quakers will have a healthy group at quarterback for the spring season. In each of the last two years, two or more Quakers' signal-callers were rehabbing injuries during this time.
Each week we’ll take a look at a particular position in need of some new bodies.
- Secondary:There are several starting positions that the Quakers will need to fill with the loss of graduating seniors, but no one position lost more experience than that of the secondary. First-team All-Ivy honorees Chris Wynn and Jonathan Moore, and second-team All-Ivy honoree Kevin Gray, certainly leave a void for the Quakers. The only steady returning starter is Josh Powers, who started all 10 games as a safety last season. However, more than several returning Quakers have game-time experience. Jonathan Saelinger, Jason Schmucker and Jim McGoldrick have all contributed in each of the last two seasons. In addition, Brian Levine, Fred Craig and Anthony Marino saw significant time in their first season in the Penn defensive backfield in 2009. Dave Twamley and Justyn Williams each had an impact when called upon last year and don't be surprised to hear the names of Daniel Ritt, Sam Chwarzynski, C.J. Jackson, Allante Keels and J.P. Grant.
- Opponents had a hard enough time preparing for Bradford Blackmon last season. He served as a running back, wide receiver and kick return specialist. And he was successful in each. Blackmon was second on the team in rushing, third in receiving and was the team's top kick returner. Oh yea, and he also completed a pass - the second of his collegiate career (the other went for a touchdown). But now, Penn's 10 opponents in 2010 may need to watch out for Blackmon on defense. As Coach Bagnoli mentioned in his interview with the Penn Sports Network prior to the first spring practice, it is a possibility that Blackmon, along with fellow running back Matt Hamscher, will start working with defensive coordinator Ray Priore and secondaries coach Jon Dupont on occasion during the spring. Maybe yet another wrinkle for a defense that finished first in the nation last season.
And for those who haven't been able to keep up with the Quakers through the winter months, here is a quick recap of the offseason.
- For the first time in six years, the Quakers entered the spring as the defending Ivy League champions. Though it is not an unfamiliar feeling for seven-time Ivy League champion head coach Al Bagnoli, the Quakers did have a busy offseason. In February, the football team was honored at halftime of a men's basketball game and received their Ivy championship rings. Earlier that month, they held their annual team banquet and head coach Al Bagnoli - a National Coach of the Year Finalist - was invited to the prestigious Philadelphia Sports Writers Association dinner. He, along with Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, Villanova football head coach Andy Talley, among others, were honored and recognized by the PSWA for their respective accomplishments in 2009.
- To cap a busy offseason of workouts, the Penn strength and conditioning staff once again hosted the Iron Quaker competition. In the fourth annual edition, defensive lineman Jared Sholly won the overall award as the strongest Penn Quaker. Sholly's linemate, Jake Peterson, who won the overall award in 2008, was the strongest pound-for-pound player.
- For the last time, the Iron Quaker event was held in the George A. Weiss Weight Room. Instead, all future Iron Quaker competitions will be held at the brand new state-of-the-art athletic weightroom facility inside the George A. Weiss Pavilion. Construction on the Weiss Pavilion should be completed this spring.
Coming Up This Week
Penn has three more practices this week as they will be under the Franklin Field lights for practice #5 on Tuesday from 8:15-10:15 p.m. They will then practice at the same time on Thursday. Instead of a practice on Friday, the Quakers will be doing some community service at Penn’s annual “Relay for Life.” From 6-10 p.m., the football team will be at the event in support of the “Be The Match” Registry, encouraging people to be a part of the National Marrow Donor program and potentially save a life. On Saturday, it’s back to football. A part of the 4-7 p.m. practice will be spent on scrimmaging. The team has invited officials to practice to get some game-like atmosphere. A rain date has been set for Sunday night the weather forces a practice to be cancelled.
- Also next week, in the next spring football report from the Penn Sports Network, Brian Seltzer will sit with linebacker Zach Heller and defensive lineman Brandon Copeland to discuss the Quakers' defense.
- The spring prospectus is available online all season.
- A full practice schedule can be found here. The Spring Game is April 10.