New Hampshire Football Report

UNH gets early start

DURHAM – His alarm clock went off at 5:15 on Tuesday morning – he said he had four or five of them set, just in case – and Isiah Perkins was off and running and at the University of New Hampshire’s athletic training room by 5:30 to get taped for the team’s opening spring practice a little after 6.

The temperature was still several degrees shy of freezing.

“It was definitely early,” Perkins said later. “It’s that way because of schedules and stuff. Overall it just felt good to get back on the field. It was chilly, but after the first five minutes you’re just excited to be out there so you don’t even feel it.”

The Wildcats put their first of 15 spring sessions in the books and it was a good one, said head coach Sean McDonnell.

“We came out and teed it off and got going,” McDonnell said. “Good energy. The thing I was pleased about was kids knew where they were going and what they were doing. . . . The problem with a lot of this is obviously we’ve got kids coming back, but more importantly there’s young guys that are trying to earn spots and do all that. They’ve been on look squads and they’ve been doing other things, but they’ve paid attention in the meetings leading up to today and they weren’t frazzled. They knew the pace of practice and everything we do so it worked out pretty well that way.”

Spring football runs through the annual Blue-White game on May 5 at noon.

The Wildcats will report back for fall camp in early August and begin final preparations for their season opening game at Maine on Aug, 30.

They play their first of six home games in Wildcat Stadium on Sept. 8 against Colgate.

UNH finished 9-5 overall and 5-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association last year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I tournament in its 14th straight appearance in the playoffs.

The offense and defense will each have nine returning starters to work with for the season, though some players are rehabilitating from injury and will see limited practice in the spring.

Perkins, a junior defensive back, started all 14 games last year and a couple as a freshman. He led the team with five of its 18 interceptions last season. Safety Evan Gray, who will be a sophomore in the fall, was next with three picks last year.

Expectations are high for the team overall and among the members of the defensive backfield in particular, Perkins said.

“We’re really excited,” Perkins said. “I know defensively the past couple of years we had a real young secondary. Now we’re all juniors, a couple of sophomores with guys like Alonzo Addae in there. We’re really excited with the core of guys we have right now as far as upperclassmen. As a group I think we see on paper right now we’re looking good, but we’re trying to take that next step as far as making it to the national championship and really taking it that next step further as a team.”

McDonnell cited the play of junior safety Rick Ellison on Tuesday.

“He looked pretty good moving around out there,” McDonnell  said. “It’s hard to tell with no pads. You just want to see people buzzing by, making the right angles to the ball and hustling to the ball.”

McDonnell also took note of some of the team’s young offensive linemen, along with senior quarterback Trevor Knight.

“In the offensive line we had a lot of young guys doing some things,” McDonnell said. “I thought we were good there. . . . We were pretty clean with the football. We only threw one pick in over 80 plays. I thought Trevor was pretty sharp. I’m going to watch the tape. My gut feeling told me Sean Coyne had a good day out there today, a young receiver who did some nice things.”

Bottom line, spring football is under way and that’s a good thing.

“You watch the guys move around and do some things,” McDonnell said. “It was fun to finally get out and play football. It’s a long time from that last day in December to right now. It’s great to get out and play football. . . . One down and 14 to go.”

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