NATCHITOCHES - The Northwestern State football team takes two significant steps forward in their preseason camp schedule on Wednesday morning at 9:40 when the Demons practice as a full 95-man team for the first time, and go through their first full contact drills at Turpin Stadium before Fall Sports Media Day activities.
After heavy thunderstorms in the area dodged NSU during the veterans' practice Tuesday, they quickly interrupted the afternoon workout featuring 27 newcomers and select veterans. Even while waiting to resume practice, Demons head coach Bradley Dale Peveto said he's seen enough through the first three workouts to know the 2012 signing class was a good one.
"It didn't take long to see no doubt, we had a good class in February," said Peveto. "We've got several guys who could help right away. It's a class with a very good look in their eyes and I'm very happy with them right now."
Lutcher High School tailback Daniel Taylor, the state Class 4A offensive player of the year last fall, has been easy to spot in camp. He's gotten a boost by a good crop of first-year offensive linemen, including Auburn transfer Andre Harris and Houston-Strake Jesuit product Pace Murphy.
Offensive coordinator Todd Cooley had no shortage of first-year players to praise.
"Daniel Taylor keeps impressing us. Cody Jones at inside receiver is making plays. He's pretty good with the ball in his hands," he said. "(South Carolina transfer tight end) Corey Simmons is doing some good things and that has been exciting to see. (Huntsville, Texas, quarterback) Daniel Hazlewood has really shown a command of the team, a command of the offense at an early stage of camp, which is really good.
"We have some good hands among the newcomers, some good looking young linemen, some transfers who can help us. Some more on our side of the ball who have looked good so far are (Many redshirt freshman) Rod Davis at receiver, Andre Harris at tackle, Pace Murphy and also up front, Thomas Little, Zack Britton, Terrence Boyd -- I'm excited about that group," said Cooley. "We'll know a lot more when we put the full pads on come Wednesday and start knocking heads."
Peveto said the Demons will be bolstered in the secondary by a pair of newcomers.
"In the defensive backfield, (New Orleans-Holy Cross freshman) Ed Eagan is a guy who has really shined. (Ville Platte freshman) Darius Poullard looked really good in coverage and jumped out at me Monday. (Katy, Texas-Seven Lakes freshman) Adam Jones is a big guy who runs well at linebacker. (Natchitoches Central freshman defensive end) Leroy Armstrong is a quick twitch guy. He's going to help us this year.
"We have a lot of competition there at corner. (Redshirt freshman) Fred Thomas is playing well. Poullard and Eagan are ahead of the young guys. We feel good that we're going to get some help there."
After one practice Wednesday morning, NSU will go through a pair on Thursday morning at 9:40 and at 4:40 Thursday afternoon.