March 24, 2011
The University of Houston football team enjoyed a spirited two-hour session on Thursday afternoon in the final tune up before the team's first scrimmage scheduled for Saturday.
Mic'ed Up with Safeties Coach Zac Spavital
PHILLIPS NABS ANOTHER HALL OF FAME: On Friday, UH offensive coordinator and former All-American receiver Jason Phillips will be inducted into the University of Houston Black Alumni Association Hall of Fame at the 22nd Annual Scholarships and Awards Gala. Phillips will be one of eight honorees at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston. During his time as a player at UH, Phillips led the nation in receiving yards in 1987 and 1988. He also was named All-Southwest Conference, the SWC Newcomer of the Year and All-American in '87. A year later he was the league's Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-America selection. Phillips was drafted by Detroit in 1989 and set a rookie record with 10 receptions vs. Tampa Bay, it was the first of six successful years in the NFL.
PRESEASON AWARDS BEGIN: Senior offensive lineman Chris Thompson has been named to the GoDaddy.com second-team preseason All-America team and senior receiver Patrick Edwards has been chosen as a third-team honoree as both a receiver and punt returner. The team is now available at the college football website NationalChamps.net. For the 12th consecutive season this Preseason All-America Team will continue to honor the best FCS level players at their respective positions with a First, Second and Third Team selection process. The online preview is free to the public.
Each day UHCougars.com will take a look at a specific position group and give fans an outlook for the 2011 season. Today we highlight the safeties.
SPOTLIGHTING THE SAFETIES: Safeties coach Zac Spavital has a near blank slate at the safety position heading into the 2011 season. Currently in spring workouts the two positions share a combined one start, sophomore Kent Brooks in the season finale at Texas Tech. Senior Nick Saenz is sitting out of spring ball after offseason surgery.
Working with the first-team at free safety is Brooks while fellow sophomore D.J. Jones holds the edge strong safety. Brooks played in 10 games as a true-freshman in 2010 and recorded 36 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and two pass break ups. Jones played in nine games, also in his first season at Houston, primarily on special teams logging five tackles.
"We are very young right now and these guys are getting a lot of reps with Nick out of spring ball," said Spavital. "Overall, we have some talent, but we've got to get experience. Kent is a 200-pound safety. He is physical, big and can tackle. D.J. is still learning, but is very athletic. I have also been happy with how Chris (Cermin) and Colton (Valencia) have been picking up the system."
The position misses the experience and leadership of Saenz who was the fourth-leading tackler on the team a year ago and started 11 games. He had 72 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He also recorded an interception, six other pass break ups.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY: After Saturday's scrimmage the Houston football team will be assisting in the donation of 27,000 pounds of chicken to the Houston Food Bank. Tyson Foods has donated 2100 cases of chicken to be given to over 25 area agencies responsible for feeding Houston's hungry. The football squad will leave the field at Robertson Stadium immediately after the scrimmage and help with distribution at approximately 12:30 p.m. in the northeast parking lot.
UP NEXT: The Cougars will play its first scrimmage of the spring season at Robertson Stadium on Sat., March 26 at 11 a.m. The scrimmage is open to the public and admission is free. The annual Frontier Fiesta will be taking place on the West side of the stadium, so parking is encouraged on the East side.