Johnson City, Tenn. -- The East Tennessee State football team practiced in full pads for the first time in the 2001 preseason during today's morning practice session.
The initial crack of pads rang through Memorial Center when the offense squared off against the defense during the "inside" drill. The Bucs' starting offensive line led the way against the starting defensive line and linebackers. Junior Scott Carter and sophomore Corey Carter both felt their initial hits of the summer while carrying the ball. Corey Carter is ETSU's top returning rusher (343 yards) while Scott Carter gained the second most yards of any returning back.
"I think everyone would say that it felt good to go against each other," said Chip Pearson, a senior offensive lineman and All-Southern Conference candidate. "This was a nice change of pace from the first few days of practice."
Senior Matt Wilhjelm and junior Jatavis Sanders continued to get most of the reps under center. They dueled with crisp outs and finesse fades throughout practice. Sanders lofted a 15-yard fade into the back corner of the endzone where sophomore Tim Turner danced along the endline for a picture-perfect touchdown. Wilhjelm and junior Charvin Clark connected a couple times on long routes.
"There was a lot of enthusiasm out there today," fifth-year head coach Paul Hamilton said. "Our players are excited to practice each day and their work ethic is outstanding. It was nice to compete against each other but we have to continue to improve in all phases of the game."
The Bucs open the 2001 season at 6 p.m. on September 1 in Pittsburgh, Pa. ETSU and the University of Pittsburgh will play the first official game in brand-new Heinz Field.