Stanford begins spring practice feeling rosy
By far the biggest concerns are on offense.
Stepfan Taylor, the school's record-setting running back, is set to graduate and enter the NFL draft. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo decided to forego their final year of eligibility to turn pro.
Running back Tyler Gaffney is returning for his senior season after a year in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system and should help alleviate Taylor's loss. But Gaffney won't be in school until the spring quarter begins, so he'll miss the first half of workouts, which he sat out in previous years playing baseball anyway.
Anthony Wilkerson, Remound Wright, Ricky Seale and Barry Sanders are among those vying for carries. Sanders and wide receiver Keanu Nelson could also see time at punt returner with Drew Terrell gone.
Fullback Geoff Meinken also is back after a severe knee injury in last year's spring game sidelined him for the season. So is outside linebacker Blake Lueders, who redshirted last season because of injuries.
Centers Graham Shuler and Kevin Reihner will miss the first session of spring, Shaw said. Shuler is out for disciplinary reasons, while Reihner is sidelined with an undisclosed injured. That means Khalil Wilkes and Conor McFadden are splitting the workload in one of the most crucial position battles.
"We're going to wear them out, which is good. They need it," Shaw said.
The first half of spring drills, which go until March 9, will focus on installing plays and basic practices. The second half, which begins April 1, will include more game situations and scripted plays, such as down and distance.
The annual Cardinal & White Spring Game will be at Stanford Stadium on April 13. For now, most are just happy to be practicing together again.
"To come back on the field, it's like, 'Thank goodness,'" Shaw said. "This is what we enjoy. And I told the guys, 'If you're wired the right way, you've been excited all day today.' And hopefully we got enough guys that felt that way."
NOTES: Shaw said he hopes to hire a new tight ends coach this week after Ron Crook, who also oversaw the tackles, left to become the offensive line coach at West Virginia. Bloomgren also will oversee Stanford's offensive line this season.
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