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March 13, 2012

Enos excited as CMU begins spring practice

The Central Michigan Chippewas opened spring ball on Tuesday morning, starting a period of practices that will last almost a month and lead up to the annual spring game on April 14.

This morning's practice, the first of 15 spring sessions, started before dawn at Kelly-Shorts Stadium on Tuesday, with players taking the field at 7:15 a.m. CMU was in helmets and shorts today, practicing in mild temperatures usually reserved for April or May in Michigan, certainly not mid-March.

When head coach Dan Enos met with the media after practice, he was in great spirits and talked about the high energy that was coming from his team on the first day of camp.

"I thought it was great," said Enos. "The attitude was outstanding. There are a lot of veteran guys who came back and have picked up right where they left off. Our guys practiced real hard, but we've got a long way to go obviously. It's hard to tell when you are in shorts, but we try to get the most out of the practice."

One of the biggest questions on the minds of Chippewa fans is who will win the backup quarterback job. That question is certainly one of the bigger storylines of the spring and will continue to be a story in the fall. Even though it is only the first day, it looks like one quarterback might have an early edge.

"We'll have to see, but I though Alex Niznak had a really good day today. I thought he had a couple really good throws. He's really developed. Coach Watts has done a really good job. Just from last year to this year, his ability to throw the ball down the field has improved dramatically and I think every day you'll see a little bit better Alex Niznak."

It can be easy to overreact to something that happens on the first day of spring ball. While it seems that Niznak has impressed the coaches early, Enos did mention how A.J. Westendorp and Cody Kater performed as well.

"AJ did some good things. Cody was swimming a little bit. He said he was lost a few times, which is to be expected, but you can see he has ability."

The Chippewa head man also talked about the running back and the wide receivers. He shares the excitement that most fans have regarding those two groups, which should both be among the best in the Mid-American Conference.

"Tipton, Garland, White and Phillips will all play. Next year, I could see any one of those guys rush for 100 yards in a game. Zurlon and Anthony have. Tim has that ability if we can keep him healthy and when Austin comes in, he definitely has that ability. I think we're going to have a very, very deep running back corps. I think our running back corps and our wide receiver corps will be as deep as anybody in our league. When you add those freshmen that we signed, Martez Walker and Saylor Lavallii, we feel really, really good about the whole group. I think we're going to have some good running backs around here."

The roster is relatively healthy coming into spring ball. Offensive linemen Darren Keyton and Mike Repovz both participated today. Another offensive lineman, Eric Fisher, participated, but was limited. Anthony Garland and Courtney Williams were even more limited. Enos did note that everybody should be back in some capacity by the end of spring practice, except for wide receiver Cody Wilson, who probably will not be back until June.

The Chippewas are off on Wednesday. They will be back to work on Thursday. On Friday, they will be in helmets and shoulder pads. On Saturday, they will be in full pads for the first time.

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