NORMAL, Ill. – Anyone driving or walking by Hancock Stadium Friday morning was greeted with the beautiful sounds of whistles and music coming from inside, as the Illinois State football team officially opened fall camp in its preparation for the upcoming 2021 season.
For the first time since March, the entire Redbird football team gathered for practice on a beautiful summer morning. The team took the field in helmets only, as they work through their NCAA mandated acclimation period before putting on full pads mid next week. The ‘Birds worked for nearly two hours, focusing on every aspect of the game in a spirited workout.
• After a pep talk from head coach Brock Spack, practice opened with a team stretch and a special teams circuit, before the team broke off into position groups to run through individual drills.
• After the individual period, the focus shifted to the first of two 7-on-7 sessions … the first and second team units took one half of the field, while the third and fourth team squads, featuring quarterbacks Britton Morris, Tommy Rittenhouse and Timothy Dorsey worked on the opposite half of the turf.
• Returning starter Bryce Jefferson took the first-team snaps and finished the drill 5-for-7 with a pair of completions to Jabari Khepera and one each to Tanner Taula, Kacper Rutkiewicz and Tristan Bailey … Redshirt freshman Jackson Waring was 4-for-7 in the session, with completions to Brett Spaulding and Notre Dame transfer Micah Jones … the defense received pass breakups from Iverson Brown and Peyton Jones during the drill.
• The blitz, 9-on-7 and perimeter sessions followed but were limited with the no-contact restrictions before the second 7-on-7 session commenced.
• Focus shifted to the opposite side of the field and the freshmen signal-callers in Rittenhouse and Dorsey … Rittenhouse finished 4-of-6 including a completion to Jarel Miller and a deep would-be touchdown to true freshman J’Kalon Carter … Dorsey was 3-for-6 including a connection with true freshman tight end Scotty Presson and to Daniel Sobkowicz, who made a great sideline grab.
• During the final team session of the day, the offense worked on picking up meaningful yardage on first down and had some success, including a nice 25-yard gain on a throw from Jefferson to Rutkiewicz to move the chains … strong runs by Melvin Pettis, Kevin Brown and Rashad Lampkin also picked up first downs for the offense, but the defense also came up with key stops up front and Damien Jackson was credited with a sack during the drill … pass breakups by Franky West, Clayton Isbell and Robert Parker-Crawford also put a stop to the offense.
• Practice ended with kickers Aidan Bresnahan and JT Bohlken each taking turns booting field goals and extra point attempts through the uprights, as the defense worked on the opposite side of the field on schemes to block kicks.
The Redbirds return to the field Saturday at 8:30 a.m. for practice No. 2. For updates, photos, and video from 2021 Redbird Football Fall Camp, follow the team’s official Twitter (@RedbirdFB) and Instagram (isuredbirdfb) accounts and log onto GoRedbirds.com.
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