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August 8, 2011

Notebook: Grant proving himself

After sustaining a minor hand injury earlier in preseason camp, inside receiver Jakeem Grant has been a bit limited over the last two days. He was glad to strap on the pads Monday, but wished he could've gotten more reps.

"It feels good putting on the shoulder pads even though I didn't get that much work because of my pinkie injury," he said. "I felt bad being hurt, because I like being out on the field and getting reps and learning new things."

Grant could also factor into the kickoff and punt return game. He's last in line for a return job right now, but the speedster thinks he can prove himself into a job.

"I like what I saw," he said. "The coaches have me last, but I'm okay with that because I have to prove myself to let them know that I'll be the best one for kickoff return."

AMARO ADJUSTING TO COLLEGE GAME

Now that he has his first day of pads in the books, freshman tight end Jace Amaro knows that he has a lot of work to do. After being able to physically dominate his opponents in high school, he's realized that technique will help him rise to the top in college.

"In high school you could just run past everyone," he said. "I could just overpower everyone. They could just throw me jump balls and stuff. Here you have to keep low and I'm a real tall receiver. A big factor is pad level. If you don't have pad level they'll just throw you off and they'll get under your shoulder pads. When that happens, you'll have no leverage and you'll get thrown off your route. I think once I get my pad level down and route running fundamentals down I'll be a really good factor in this offense."

Amaro got to test his physical merit today against junior defensive end Leon Mackey and was able to hold his own. The tight end noted the level of physicality in college and thinks he can be a factor once he gets the blocking technique down.

"It's a lot more physical. I finally blocked," he said. "I blocked Leon Mackey. He's a really big dude. He's going to be a great player for the next two years. I think once you get the blocking down it's a new experience. Blocking is more technique (in college). You can't just overpower them anymore. I think once I get that technique down it will be a good factor for me."

EDWARDS LOOKING FOR CONSISTENCY

Senior offensive guard Lonnie Edwards, along with the other offensive and defensive linemen, was licking his chops at the opportunity of a little contact today.

"The physicality was really high," Edwards said. "Everybody came out with their hair on fire, ears pinned back, and we got after it today."

He also thinks that having every starter return on the offensive line will help out an otherwise young offense.

"It's great. It just carries over from last year, everything that we've accomplished as a line, as a unit. It's really nice to have everybody back."

For the first time in a long time at Tech, tight ends have joined the offensive linemen in a number of blocking drills. Amaro is one of the tight ends trying to learn the ropes, and Edwards wants him to learn example.

"You just tell him to watch the guy in front of you, just look at us guys, we know what we're doing. We just tell him to get mental reps and just watch us. We'll teach him a thing or two here and there, but the main thing is to just watch us and see what we do and just repeat."

EMPHASIS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Tuberville said Monday that the Red Raiders are placing a special emphasis on the return game. Tech ranked sixth in the Big 12 in kickoff returns in 2010 and 10th in punt returns. If Tech is to improve on last season's 8-5 record, Tuberville noted that the return units will have to be improved.

The fact that the Red Raiders' depth is better across the board this year as compared to last is reason for optimism on the special teams front.

"We've changed some techniques. Obviously, we'll have some different personnel," he said. "Last year we didn't have enough depth to be good on special teams because most of those guys were starters, and when you've got to play starters on special teams they might not put full attention into special teams because they are having to do so much with the offense or defense, whatever position that they play."



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