Tight end Kyle Nelson made some tough grabs during Friday's Aggie spring football practice.
Nelson made three or four catches that stand out, two over the middle with the defender providing tight coverage. One of them went for a touchdown in the redzone.
The Aggie passing game needs a boost from its tight ends this season. Last year the team got just 17 catches from the position — consisting of Nelson, Kyle Hipp and Kenny Evora — for 137 yards and one touchdown. Nelson led the way with 13 grabs for 112 yards, but he suffered through drops and inconsistent play.
Physically — he stands at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds — Nelson fits the role. The team could line him up at the traditional tight end position or out wide as well, depending on matchups. He just needs to bring it to the field on Saturday's in the fall.
“He's got to do it during a game,” NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker said. “That's his nemesis. He had a good spring last year too and we love what he's doing now. He's got the potential to do some things in coach Dunbar's offense.”
The defensive backs unit could be the Aggies' strongest heading into the 2010 season.
Davon House looks more mature and people have spoken highly of Jonte Green this spring.
I spoke to Green last week and he said offseason conditioning with coach Gary Uribe was a key in his development, as he pushed himself in the weight room.
“Of course I'm shooting for All-WAC. I'm shooting for more than that too,” Green said. “I want to be the best cornerback in the nation. I'm playing hard and hoping it will fall into place.”
The one concern is at safety. Alfonso Powell returns, but Stephon Hatchett has sat out this spring to deal with academics.
Ben Bradley has stepped in this spring and could continue to see time in the fall if Hatchett can't get things turned around.
Walker spoke about his defense following Friday's practice.
“The offense has gotten most of the attention so far, and rightfully so,” he said. “Don't overlook our defense though.”
The DBs were looking good on Friday, as was the defensive line.
Walker spoke about the linebacker corps and how he's liked the development there. NMSU's top three backers at the moment are Boyblue Aoelua in the middle, Frank Padilla at strongside and B.J. Adolpho at weakside.
“We're faster on defense and I think we have a better football IQ there,” Walker said.
My feelings: Health is going to be paramount, particularly at the linebacker position. There just isn't much depth there.
Walker also spoke about the offense and what group will bring to the table.
“Our quarterbacks are better. They're playing better this year,” Walker said. “We've got (incoming recruits) Kenny Turner and Taveon Burke who we're hoping will come in and give us some juice.”
Walker called the offensive line's performance “steady” this spring. Tackles Dwayne Barton, Ruben Escargesa, guards Sioeli Fakalata and Mike Yocius and center Mike Grady have all taken snaps.
“It's always going to be a hard-charging unit under Jason (offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier),” he said.
Looking ahead to fall practices, expect some newcomers to get an immediate chance to get out on the field.
Walker spoke last week about linebackers Anthony Joyner and Dylan Davis getting an opportunity for playing time as possible backups to start the season.
Defensive tackles Tommy Stuart and David Mahoney are going to take the field and be given a chance to perform.
Cornerback Darien Johnson, a true freshman, will get a look.
On the offensive line, look for tackle Aundre McGaskey to make an impact and guard Dylan Lusk to get some time as well.