Kill to check out position switches at spring game
Jerry Kill spent his first spring as coach at Minnesota trying
to teach his offense and defense to a completely new set of
He’s spending part of his second spring with the Golden Gophers
trying to make sure all those players are in the right positions.
Kill has asked several players to switch positions this season,
hoping to maximize the talent he has, and the playing time for
several players who haven’t been able to find much of the field
early in their college careers.
Among those who are making a move include Moses Alipate, a
quarterback who is now playing tight end. James Manuel has been
moved from safety to linebacker and running back Lamonte Edwards is
now playing linebacker.
For Alipate, a highly touted quarterback at Bloomington
Jefferson High School who appeared to be in position to get some
playing time under center for the Gophers early in his college
career, it’s been quite a transition. At 6 feet 5, 290 pounds, he
is a natural athlete who is trying to get more acclimated to the
physical nature of tight end.
”As a quarterback you want to get away from the defense. Here,
I’m trying to butt heads with them,” Alipate said. ”I’m trying to
get into the middle of the dog pile.”
Kill gets a chance to see how the transition is going on
Saturday when the Gophers hold their spring game.
”The kids that have moved, it’s all been beneficial for them,”
Kill said. ”Sometimes it’s not so beneficial. … They just need
to learn what to do. A lot of them are processing right now. Then
when two-a-day camp comes, they should be a lot farther along. All
the moves to this point been best for our kids and our team.”
A couple of players are making the significant move from one
side of the ball to the other. Kendall Gregory-McGhee has moved
from defensive line to tight end and former running back Edwards is
continuing a transition to linebacker that started in the middle of
”It’s a lot easier, because being switched right in the middle
of the season, you’ve got to pick up on everything,” Edwards said.
”But everything I learned there is pretty much transferring now,
so I can grasp the concepts of playing linebacker.”
Alipate was a step ahead thanks to his experience at quarterback
in Kill’s first season last year. With young quarterbacks MarQueis
Gray and Max Shortell on the roster, the coaching staff first
approached Alipate about changing positions last season. He
resisted, hoping to earn his way on to the field. When that didn’t
happen in 2011, he decided to make the switch this spring.
”It was definitely something different, but if you love the
game of football you’re willing to help out your team no matter
what position it is,” he said.
Alipate ran the offense in practice last season, so he was
familiar with what was required of his tight ends.
”Definitely having a feel of the offense, playing quarterback
last year I got to know everybody’s position and everybody’s
responsibilities,” Alipate said. ”The biggest thing the coaches
stress to me is play more physical. That’s something that I have to
continue to work on this spring.”
Edwards hasn’t had the same type of difficulty. A physical,
6-foot-2, 210-pound runner out of the St. Paul suburb of Woodbury,
Edwards has found the increased opportunities for collision a
welcome plus now that he is trying to take down runners in the open
field rather than make people miss.
”Since we’ve been having captain’s practice over winter
training, I’ve got the gist of all the play calls and everything,”
It’s taking some patience, both from the players and the
coaches. The players can get frustrated by not feeling comfortable
in a new setting and the coaches have to resist the urge to
chastise them for making elementary mistakes.
”You just let them play during spring ball because they have to
get comfortable,” Kill said. ”They are learning a whole different
world. So you can’t go, `Well, this kid is not going to play,’
because you don’t know.”
Getting to play in a game situation on Saturday will give the
players a sense of how far they’ve come, and how much they still
have to learn before the season begins in the fall.
”We’ve had some scrimmage situations and the first couple of
times I was a little nervous,” Alipate said. ”In the huddle, Max
looked at me and said, `Are you ready for this?’
”I said, `We’ll see.”’
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