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Volume 68, Issue 1, Monday, August 26, 2002

Sports
 

New players should energize the Cougars

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

A team coming off a winless season is going to need some new blood. New players haven't become used to losing, and their enthusiasm can
be infectious, giving veterans a fresh perspective.


Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar


Jackie Battle, a freshman running back, is part of the talented group of newcomers on the Cougar squad. Head coach Dana Dimel's recruiting
efforts should finally start to show on the field this season.


Most of the freshmen and junior college players come from winning programs, and they will expect to win. Some of them will make an impact on
the team this year, while others will contribute down the road.

About 10 true freshmen and junior college players may see playing time this season. Some 29 additional players will also play for the first time
after redshirting or sitting out for transfers. 

Several players, including defensive lineman Kade Lane and cornerback Delenell Reid, have been with the team since the spring and will play
significant roles. Reid is fighting for a starting job while Lane will see time in a reserve role.

According to the coaches, one of the most impressive players in fall practice has been redshirt freshman Barrick Nealy. Nealy is a superb
athlete, and his understanding and execution of the Houston offense has improved immeasurably in recent weeks.

"Barrick's getting better with every rep that he's taking, and so far he's taken advantage of the opportunity he's had," co-offensive coordinator
Dave Warner said.

Highly touted freshman Roshawn Pope, a Galveston product, has also been getting attention from coaches and fans. "Roshawn Pope is going
to help us at the cornerback position," head coach Dana Dimel said.

There had been some debate, even some intra-team recruiting, for his services. Pope was wanted by the offensive coaches to play wide
receiver, while the defensive coaches saw him as a cornerback.

"He was a high school quarterback, so what I think is so funny is people wonder why he's playing corner instead of wide receiver," Dimel said.
"He was a quarterback so it was wide open what he was going to be (in college)."

The biggest impact by freshmen and the coming junior college players will be on the defensive line. Dimel wants to improve the speed and
athletic ability of his linemen, and some returning linemen may see action on the offensive line.

Mammoth defensive linemen like 280 pound Matthew Bentley and 295 pound Gerard Richard will provide some beef up the middle and help
with the depth on a line that struggled last year. 

An even bigger player is Darren Carr, who weighs in at more than 300 pounds on his 6-6 frame. Does that name sound familiar? Darren is the
younger (not little) brother of Houston Texans quarterback David Carr.

"We're going to recruit little brothers, coaches' sons, whatever we can get. It's been good and we're going to use it as much as we can," Dimel
said, referring to the younger Carr's arrival. Albert Martinez, an edge rusher, will back up at one of the defensive end spots and likely give
opposing quarterbacks nightmares.

On the offensive line, Philip Hawkins and Josh Veal will try to get into the rotation. Will Gulley may see some time at safety.

Kirkpatrick and Lane have looked particularly good in practice and scrimmages.

These newcomers may end up making or breaking the season for the Cougars. It will be their job to help replace departed seniors and provide
the depth that is critical for good teams.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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