• A mix of rookies and veterans practiced for two hours on Monday morning, the first of the day’s two practices. The reason the practices this week will involve a mix of vets and newcomers is because summer classes are still going on — and some players have either morning or afternoon practices — and also because coaches like to mix in veterans with the freshmen to provide some leadership.
Among the veterans practicing in the morning were OL Edwin Harrison, TE Joe Sanders and Riar Geer and LB R.J. Brown.
• Strength coach Jeff Pitman said based on what the team did this past summer, this is the strongest overall team he’s had.
“That’s saying something,” Dan Hawkins said. “That’s a pretty huge turnaround.”
• With sophomore Michael Sipili suspended indefinitely from the team after his arrest this summer after an altercation in Boulder, Hawkins said one of the sam linebackers — like Marcus Burton — could move over to fill in at mike, where Sipili was expected to start. R.J. Brown assumes the starting role with Sipili benched. Of Brown, the senior who worked his way to a scholarship, and was voted special teams captain this year, Hawkins said, “He’s just so smart and so consistent and so tough. He makes up with what he does for what he doesn’t have maybe in weight or speed or strength.”
• Hawkins was upbeat about the scholarship newcomers who practiced in the morning. He said the fact that most of them were here during at least part of the summer and working out helped. Asked if they looked like the type of players he hoped they could be when they were signed, Hawkins singled out three players in the morning group: “You look at (Tau), and Markques (Simas) is a very polished receiver and Josh (Smith) is doing a nice job.”
• There are 12 new invited walkons participating in August drills. They include OL David Clark (Aspen), DE Kevin Cooney (Faith Christian, Arvada), PK Tyler Cope (Jesuit, Portland, Ore.), OL Travis Duffy (Columbine), FS Jason Espinoza (Alamosa), OL Joe Fruechtel (Oregon State), WR Colin Gilbert (Ironwood Ridge, Tucson), TB Arthur Jaffee (Fairview), WR Steve Melton (Saddleback CC), DE Tony Poremba (Cherry Creek), FS Travis Sandersfield (Limon) and SS Matthew Vlahogeorge (Jefferson, Lafayette, Ind.) Seven more are expected to join the team once classes start.
Markques Simas and Josh Smith certainly pass the eyeball test. Both stood out, just in terms of their smooth athleticism. …Matt Ballenger should have a sore arm this week as he was the only QB working in the morning group. …Edwin Harrison displayed his experience when he swallowed Conrad Obi in a one-on-one drill.