NORMAN — Football practice kicked off in Norman on Monday, and both Tigers and Timberwolves took the field with a host of new faces.
New quarterbacks led the way at both places, with NHS’ Jakcob Dean and North’s David Cornwell both making their way into the role for the first time at their respective schools. For Dean, it was his first full practice since moving under center from wide receiver a year ago, while Alabama commit Cornwell is in his first season at North.
NHS coach Greg Nation knows that it will take some time to bring Dean up to speed. The Tigers are filling the void left by the graduated Zach Long, a three-year starter, and Dean hasn’t played quarterback since his freshman season. But the senior impressed Nation in his first full practice.
“He made his reads really well today and threw the ball well,” Nation said. “And our run game looked really sharp as well.”
The run game that Dean will coordinate was the NHS’ biggest weapon a year ago, and though the Tigers lost several feature backs to graduation, Nation said the stable of backs they have is quickly improving.
“Darius Manning, Sayvon Foley, Dupree Young and David Flenory, those guys are all looking good,” he said. “As a whole, I’m very pleased with where we’re at on the first day.”
While the Tigers worked to replace some parts from a year ago, across town Cornwell said he was focusing on returning his team to where they were a few weeks ago.
“We were really connecting at team camp, and I’m working to get back into top shape with my receivers,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of tools to throw the ball to, so getting back to that was fun. We have a lot of new guys, getting the timing down with them is the first step.”
Two of those new receivers are Nick Basquine and Jesse Steepe, two players the T-Wolves are expecting a lot of on the outside. Basquine is a gifted athlete that played some last season and also started on the Timberwolves’ state runner-up baseball team, while Steepe — who at 5-foot-7 is a little undersized - has made an impact on both his coaches and his quarterback with his precision.
“Every route Jesse runs is perfect,” Cornwell said. “It’s the first day, and having him out there with what he’s done to get on the field, I’m impressed and excited to get out there with him.”
On the other side of the ball, North is trying to break in a defense that is filled with new — but not inexperienced — faces.
“A lot of these guys have been waiting for their chance to make their mark on the program,” coach Wade Standley said. “Right now we’re doing a lot of installation of our basic schemes, but they’ve committed to work every day and they’ve had a good summer. They know last year is in the books and they’re excited for it to be their time.”
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