Troy Calhoun isn’t generally chatty with reporters, but ask him about a freshman – particularly this early in camp – and he goes positively silent.
He had nothing to say Thursday about receiver Cody Bronkar, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound talent who was working with the varsity, or running back Benton Washington, a 6-foot, 200 pound runner who was also running with the varsity and carries the look of an upperclassman.
Calhoun offered this explanation for his silence.
“A guy’s got to get tackled at least twice before we know anything,” he said. “He’s got to get tackled once, then see how he responds. How do you handle it? How do you handle combat? That’s what we’re trying to build.”
The freshmen themselves will not be available to the media until after the first game, so right now we can only observe.
Those two, along with offensive linemen Mike Sutton and Alex Norton have already logged some varsity practice time. There’s a strong buzz about defensive lineman Cody Moorhead.
In short, seven practices into the season and it already looks like some freshmen could be asked to make contributions at some point this year.
That’s fine with Calhoun if it happens, but he’s not going to force the issue.
“What you can’t do with a freshman here is you can’t rush them,” the coach said. “If there’s a hugely valuable lesson that we’ve learned here is that you can’t skip steps in the process for a guy to emerge as a football player.
“Some years you maybe have to, or there’s a guy who is so splendid that he should be playing as a freshman. It happens. I thought Tim Jefferson was, without a doubt. Jalen Robinette last year, I thought was ready as a freshman after about five games. There have been some instances where that’s been proven.”
As for this group, Calhoun will just wait and see. Some of those runners will log carries in Saturday morning’s scrimmage at Falcon Stadium, and that will likely tell him something. But he’s in no rush.