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April 2, 2011
Central Michigan has completed their third week of spring practice and the positional battles are starting to see separation between players. And with any spring practice, players have stepped up and looked impressive, perhaps a foreshadowing to the future playmakers in the 2011 season. Here are a few players who have stepped up in the spring so far.
RB Tim Phillips
-After suffering through two injury plagued seasons, including a torn pectoral muscles that cost him the entire 2010 season, Phillips looks healthy and has regained that playmaking ability he previously showed. As a true freshman Phillips played in six games and had 10 carries for 57 yards, but he was limited by a nagging ankle injury. Regardless, playing as a true freshman is no small feat, and it was apparent that the previous staff saw him as too talented to keep off the field. Under Enos, Phillips never really got going, but he has made his mark in spring practice thus far, taking the majority of the first team reps. As of now, Phillips is the front runner for the starting running back spot, and he could be a major X-factor going into the 2011 season.
WR Jerry Harris
-Inconsistencies played a huge role in the Chippewas passing game in 2010, and Harris was not an exception to that. But as the season went on, he began to see a larger role and QB Ryan Radcliff started to develop confidence in the 6-foot-3 and 185 pound junior. Harris would finish the season with 30 catches for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns, and with his size and speed combination he has immense potential. And over the last three weeks, Harris is starting to realize that potential, as he has made highlight reel catches all over the field and has become the Chippewas go to deep threat.
QB A.J. Westendorp
-A forgotten man at quarterback last season due to a foot injury, Westendorp missed most of the spring and suffered a huge setback as the Chippewas adapted to Dan Enos's offense. His reps were down and he never really got a chance to compete for the starting job, but in typical Westendorp fashion he turned a negative into a positive as he voluntarily moved to TE on a temporary basis and eventually became CMU's backup tight end. This spring he is back at QB and is battling Brandon Fricke neck and neck for the backup job. His passes show a increased zip on them and his accuracy has been impressive.
S Jahleel Addae
-After moving around from running back to wide receiver his first few years, Addae finally found a permanent home at safety at the end of the 2009 season, and he has developed into full fledged playmaker. What he lacks in size, he has always made up for in speed and toughness, and it led to an 80 tackle season last year. While he has always been strong in run support, Addae has displayed vast improvement in the passing game, and he has given the Chippewas quarterbacks fits in the secondary. Addae has also taken a leadership role with the defense, and his presence goes well beyond his play.
DT Leterrius Walton
-By now reports of the Chippewas massive young playmaker at defensive tackle has spread everywhere, and for good reason. At 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds, Walton more resembles defensive lineman from BCS conferences than the MAC, and he has a chance to become a terrific player for the Chippewas. Walton will routinely overpower players in practice and is good for one or two "wow" plays every time he sets foot in a scrimmage, but he also is still developing the consistency needed to start. While still raw, once everything clicks, the Chippewas will have a monster in the middle.
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