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Sports >  EWU football

Eastern Washington prepares for Red-White spring game on Saturday

UPDATED: Mon., April 25, 2022

Eastern Washington huddles after its first spring scrimmage on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at Roos Field in Cheney.  (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
Eastern Washington huddles after its first spring scrimmage on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at Roos Field in Cheney. (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
By Justin Reed For The Spokesman-Review

Two drafts are on the books this week as the 2022 NFL Draft begins Thursday in Las Vegas and Eastern Washington will hold its 2022 Red-White draft on Tuesday in preparation for the Red-White game on Saturday.

The game will give coaches and fans a chance to see the first iteration of the new team.

The Eagles will split the coaching staff in two, allowing each team to draft roster. A coin flip will determine the first pick.

Each team must draft the position the opposing team picks, so for example, if the red team picks a quarterback, the white team must draft a quarterback.

Then if the white team drafts a safety, the red team then has to draft a safety.

Coach Aaron Best explained that utilizing this draft style allows for balanced teams without one team loading up on one position.

But this style won’t prevent some of the classic trash talk about who was drafted before who talk.

“It makes for some good banter in the room during those draft days,” Best said.

Best will also recuse himself from being a coach or adviser for either team – he wants both teams to have autonomy on its decisions – he will merely be an onlooker and observer during the week.

“I try to be just a set of eyes and a set of ears,” Best said. “I kind of let the offense and defense do their thing, just kind of be a third party, if you will, just to see it from a same chair, different perspective outlook. See how guys communicate, what kind of relationships are built, what type of fluidity there is and just jot notes along the way.”

Other than that, the week will be structured as if the Eagles were prepping for a Cal Poly or Weber State on Saturday.

This will also be the first game-week feel for newcomers to the program who have never experienced what the run-up to a Saturday is like in Cheney.

The idea is for both teams to absorb as much of the prep as possible as the staff works to recreate the week leading up to gameday and then the gameday vibe itself come Saturday.

Usually, the Eagles are off on Mondays of a game week before sinking their teeth into prep, so Best said the feeling of it being a game week won’t sink in until after practice on Monday. The buzz will start to grow during and after the draft on Tuesday.

One of the wide receivers who might join in on some of the draft banter Tuesday – considering he has never experienced one – will be Nolan Ulm, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Kelowna, British Columbia.

A season ago, Ulm caught eight balls for 77 yards, including a touchdown in the FCS Playoffs against Northern Iowa. He also was a member of the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team.

“He’s a consummate team player, he wants what’s best for the team,” Best said. “If he can help by scoring touchdowns, great, if he can help by blocking, that’s great, too. But no one has been (more) consistent day in and day out, (Ulm) watches more film than probably most of us coaches. He’s certainly going to be a player in our system this fall.”

Ulm, who snagged a touchdown from Gunner Talkington during Saturday’s scrimmage, will utilize the Red-White game as a way to get his normal gameday routine back in line.

“I’ll juggle, I’m a juggler,” Ulm said. “So I get in before our clap session (with the QB’s) and get a lot of juggling in, a lot of visualization. And, I’m a headphone guy, so I like to get in the mode there.”

Defensive back, Keshaun King, a redshirt senior, has been through the spring rodeo a few times, so while the anticipation of a draft still lingers, King is almost more eager to see the young guys get a chance to pop some pads during the Red-White game.

“It’s mainly more exciting to see what the younger kids can do and see how they progressed from the start when they first came in,” King said. “And now, they’re starting to understand the defense and just seeing what they can do, is really what spring ball is about.”

Parking and admission will be free, and the game will have concessions available.

A postgame autograph session will follow with players available for the fans to sign memorabilia.

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