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April 2, 2012

5 Questions With...Pat Shepard

ColonialsCorner caught up with Robert Morris tight ends coach Pat Shepard recently to get his take on one of the prime position battles in spring camp.

Robert Morris has a large hole to fill with Shadrae King gone, but there are some pieces there at tight end. Shepard offered his thoughts on the tight end position and RMU's approach to the offseason.

You lose a pretty big piece in Shadrae but you have some guys coming back. How do things look right now at tight end?
Here's what I see now. I see Paul (Evans) being a consistent starter as of right now. I told those guys today in our huddle that I'm glad we're not playing North Dakota State next week. Offensively, we're getting pieces sorted out, but we're just not ready full speed. If I had to start next week, I think Paul would be the regular guy. He's got experience. Smitty (Andrew Smith) has experience last year, he'd be number two.

Cory Nolton, a senior, switched from defensive end to tight end because of depth on the line. What have you seen from him so far?
You get to see Cory for the first week and he's getting better every day. It's good to have the young guys be able to look at Paul and Smitty because they've been doing it. ... We saw (Cory) run routes last year and we were really impressed by him. With losing Shadrae, we felt good with Paul and Smitty, but we felt Cory just to give him a chance and if he makes a better move in spring, we've got something here.

I would imagine he's okay with blocking because he has that defensive line mentality still.
He's great at driving the ball. He just has to learn a couple plays and route running. This kid ran sub-4.6 in the offseason, so he's a freak. We just need to shape him and mold him into what he needs to be.

What's it been like only having three or four guys in camp? That's a lot of reps to spread around, but with some of the guys like D.J. Pearson and Cory, that has to help.
You get to see who's tough. These guys have to go and do reps, and you find out who wants to be out there. To tell you the truth, I have no problem with it really. I'd rather have four guys there than eight guys with four guys waiting for reps.

Because of the youth around this team last year, is there a little bit of a sense of excitement around here?
Our philosophy was we're hitting the restart button here a little bit. We tried to take on a new thing. We've got young players here and we're just going to work on great work ethic and that's it. You can see it in practice. I think they're excited about it.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi contributed to this report and can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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