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Day Ten: Hello, Walls!

August 16, 2009

    West Liberty University head football coach Roger Waialae gave his team a bit of a break on Sunday, limiting practice to a single session in tops – helmets and shoulder pads – with a considerable amount of special teams work.

    You couldn’t really call it an easy day with the campus thermometer reading 91 degrees in the shade and the heat probably pushing well into triple-digits at sun-splashed Russek Field but it did give the players a chance to get their legs back after the first week of full-contact work.kashif fade

    For the first time this month, every player in camp participated in practice. There haven’t been any significant injuries to date but several players had missed one or two sessions due to the usual assortments of bumps, bruises, strains and pulls.

    One of those players was highly-touted wide receiver Kashif Walls. The New Jersey native had electrified the crowd at the Hilltoppers’ spring game with 5 catches for 145 yards – including an 85-yard touchdown reception. Walls had been limited by a strained groin for the past week but was back at full stride Sunday and put on quite a show.

    Walls exploded into the spotlight during the 7-on-7 drills, hauling in a pair of TD passes of 60-70 yards down the sidelines. The real eye-openers came when he broke off three more long catch-and-runs over the middle of the field, planting his foot and turning upfield to leave his defenders in the dust.

    It turned out to be one of the offense’s best days of the entire camp. Offensive coordinator Gary Krol, one of the more intense mentors on the staff, was so pleased he burst into song at one point during the 7-on-7 segment.

     Junior quarterback Zach Amedro continued to thread the needle on short, intermediate and deep routes to a variety of receivers. Veterans Eddie Hills and Ryan Travis were on the receiving end of several balls along with junior running back Kevon Calhoun. Wide receiver Dontrell Lee, a junior-college transfer who has had an outstanding camp, outdueled senior free safety Paul Kallevig for a 65-yard TD.

    The day wasn’t a total loss for the defense. Junior outside safety Kyle Rapp saved one touchdown when he came out of nowhere to break up a well-thrown ball to junior running back Stephen Ford, who had popped wide open on a go route down the left hash.

    After starting the day with an extended punt and punt return segment, the coaches followed the 7-on-7s with a heavy dose of kickoff and kickoff return work before closing out with more 1-on-1s and conditioning sprints.

    The team will get one more double session with the triple-Hs (hazy, hot, humid) on Monday, going in full pads at 9 a.m. and tops at 3 p.m. Rain and cooler temperatures are in the forecast for Tuesday and are expected to hold through the middle of the week.

    A tip of the Hilltopper Huddle cap to West Liberty Sports Information Director Matt Watson. Matt took one for the Hilltopper Huddle team on Sunday, giving up his day off to shoot some more pictures for us and provide a practice update. Thanks, Matt!

    In the photo above, Walls watches a pass settle into his hands on a perfect fade route toss from Amedro in the corner of the end zone during the early part of Sunday’s session.

    The video interviews with the players will return to the Huddle on Monday. To access Matt’s Sunday photos, click on the following link: Training Camp Photos: Day 10

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