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Drake Opens Spring Practice
When spring football practice begins at Drake Tuesday, third-year head coach Chris Creighton is looking for the team to build on its chemistry that led the Bulldogs to a third-place finish in the Pioneer Football League last season.
“We need to continue to build team chemistry to become better,” said Creighton. “We have some young guys at different positions that need to mature and grow during spring ball because they will expected to play some key roles in the fall. “
Seventy players, including 28 letterwinners, return from last year’s Drake team that finished 8-3 overall, including a 6-2 league mark.
There are 14 returning starters including two-time first-team all-PFL performer Steve Platek (Arlington Heights, Ill.), who will be a senior J-Back.
Senior-to-be Dain Taylor (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), another first-team all-league choice, is one of eight returning starters on defense. Taylor had 48 tackles, including 29 solos. He led Drake with 19.5 tackles for losses totaling 90 yards, while recording a team-high 10.5 quarterback sacks for 73 yards in losses.
Linebacker Tyler Moorehead (Mason City, Iowa) was named the 2009 PFL Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. Senior Josh Walkup (Littleton, Colo.) was a second-team All-PFL choice last year.
Honorable mention All-PFL choices David Witkiewicz (Hales Corner, Wis.) and Ben Morrison (Long Grove, Ill.) return at nose guard and linebacker, respectively. Sophomore offensive tackle Evan Lawrence (Moline, Ill.) also was an honorable mention All-PFL selection last fall.
The spring game is set for Saturday, April 17 at 6 p.m. at Drake Stadium.
“We do have a number of returning letterwinners and starters coming back from a year ago,” said Creighton. “Last year’s team had an intense desire to succeed. If we can find that same desire and continue to build our chemistry I think that this year’s team could be dynamite.”
One change that occurred during the offseason was that defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Neal Neathery left to become the defensive coordinator at Texas-San Antonio
Tom Allen steps in as defensive coordinator after serving the past two seasons as defensive coordinator at Lambuth (Tenn.) University.
“One of our top priorities would be for our defense to become familiar with our new defensive coordinator and to make those adjustments,” said Creighton.
This spring, Drake will head into the fall with more certainty at the quarterback position after sophomore Mike Piatkowski assumed the role last year. Piatkowski passed for 2,139 yards — the most by a Drake quarterback since Connor Jostes threw for 2,196 yards in 2004 — including 14 touchdowns.
“Last season none of our quarterbacks had experience headed into the opening game. With one year under his belt, I think Mike (Piatkowski) will be better this fall. The greatest improvement is often from year one to year two.”
Drake also will host a free Youth Day for elementary school kids on April 16 at Drake Stadium.
By Drake University Sports Information