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Thu., Aug. 13, 2009, 4:27 p.m.

Eagles will open camp, season without Leahy

Eastern Washington will open fall football practice this afternoon, and you can an early look at the unedited version of the pre-camp story that will appear in Friday's S-R below.

The biggest news heading into the fall is the knee injury that will keep Brice Leahy, a projected returniing starter on the offensive line, out for the 2009 season.

Read on.


In another effort to take additional strain off its already tortured athletic department budget, Eastern Washington University’s football team will belatedly hold its first full practice of fall camp this afternoon at 2:15.


“We’re starting three days later than we technically could, by (NCAA) rule,” explained Eagles second-year coach Beau Baldwin. “But that was something we agreed upon as a department. It’s something in our area we can do slightly different to save money on housing and meals.


“And everyone in nearly every walk of life, these days, is looking for places and ways to save money.”


Baldwin added he does not expect the late start, which will save three days of room and board on the 90-plus players expected to participate in preseason workouts, to have any detrimental effect on his program in the long run.


“We’re still going to get in 26 practices before our first game (against Western Oregon on Sept. 5),” he said. “And I can look back to when I was an assistant here under Coach (Paul) Wulff and recall plenty of years where we were at maybe 25 or 26 practices before our first game.


“You can go 20, you can go 26, you can go 29, whatever, and you still might not feel like you’re quite there. But we’ve had a lot of years – a lot of successful years – where we played good in Week One after only 25 or 26 practices.”


It helps, Baldwin admitted, that this year’s team is loaded with veteran players, including several three-year senior starters like quarterback Matt Nichols and wide receivers Aaron Boyce, Tony Davis and Brynsen Brown.


“Their attitude and work ethic has been great during the offseason,” Baldwin said of his players. “They were excited even coming out of the spring, and that’s tough sometimes, because you’re coming off spring practice and there’s still a month of school left.


“But they worked hard, both in the weight room and the classroom, and then worked their tails off over the summer, too.”


Baldwin expects a to have 38 returning letterwinners, including 15 starters, back from last year’s 6-5 team that finished 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference. But veteran offensive lineman Brice Leahy will not be among them.


The 6-foot-7, 295-pound junior tackle from Gig Harbor, who started 10 games at left tackle as a sophomore last fall, suffered a severe knee injury in a scooter accident in Cheney last month and will miss the 2009 season.


According the Baldwin, the injury to his right knee was originally feared to be of a career-ending nature, but the prognosis has since been upgraded, and there is a chance Leahy will be back to play in 2010.


On a more positive note, Baldwin said Will Edge, a junior defensive back from Tacoma, who suffered a gruesome dislocation of his left and ankle and fracture of his left tibia during spring practice, is healing much quicker than anticipated and could return at some point during the season.





Veteran players checked in for fall camp on Wednesday and went through conditioning drills later in evening. … The Eagles will work without pads this afternoon and then spend Saturday and Sunday in helmets and shoulder pads before practicing in full gear for the first time on Monday. … The first scrimmage of fall camp has been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22, and will be held at Gonzaga Prep at approximately 11:30 a.m. … Despite the offseason departures of two assistants – offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Joe Wade and running backs coach Nat Conley – Baldwin still has nine other coaches on his staff, thanks to hiring of wide receivers coach Junior Adams and the promotions of Zak Hill and Heath Pulver, who were student assistants last fall. … The Eagles do not have a tight ends coach in place, but Baldwin said those duties will be split among himself, Adams and offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Best. “Tight end is the one position where it appears we don’t have a coach,” Baldwin said, “but, in some ways, those guys may have more eyes on them than they ever had.”




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