Redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee participated in team and 7-on-7 drills Tuesday for the first time this spring.
Donning a green non-contact jersey, he lined up with the second team during 7-on-7s. Magee said he worried about the left Achilles tendon he ruptured in fall camp, which shelved him for the 2011 season, during his first reps.
Then he went out and played football during his second and third reps. The result: a performance better than even he expected Tuesday.
“I was actually shocked at where I was at,” Magee said. “It was a lot better than where I thought (I’d be). I’d thought I’d be a little rusty, especially mentally since I haven’t been out there getting reps, but I was on my game.”
Magee said he should practice with the first team Wednesday. He’s taking spring practice on a week-by-week basis. He’ll re-evaluate himself Monday with goals of suiting up in full pads by the last week of spring ball.
“He’s anxious to get back in there, but we’re being cautious with him,” coach Todd Graham said. “I thought he moved well out there today.”
He’s the last remaining linebacker from the 6-7-8 trio from Centennial High in Corona, Calif. Because of the injury, Magee missed out on a chance to play alongside his longtime friends Shelly Lyons and Vontaze Burfict.
The two-sport athlete also missed a shot at the big leagues. The Oakland Athletics drafted Magee in the 21st round in June.
Despite the circumstances, Magee has kept a positive attitude about his situation and throughout the recovery process.
“I’ve been happy every day,” Magee said. “I have a lot of people on my side and they encourage me every day.”
The only thing he’s focused on is when he’ll take off the green jersey. Magee hopes he’ll get to hit someone by the end of the spring.
“I progress every day I’m out here,” Magee said. “I’m excited to see where I end up. It’s going to be better than last season and any season I’ve played before, so get ready.”
– Redshirt freshman placekicker Matt Kirwan started with the first team Tuesday. Graham wanted to see how sophomore placekicker Alex Garoutte would respond to the move. Garoutte ended practice drilling a field goal with the team — and even Graham — heckling him during the attempt.
“I want competition in that position,” Graham said. “There’s competition in all positions, but we definitely want competition for those positions. We got three or four guys with strong legs and we’re going to look at them. But I think Alex answered the call today.”
– After watching the film from Saturday’s scrimmage, Graham said it went better than he thought it did. He said senior running back James Morrison, sophomore offensive lineman Jamil Douglas and redshirt freshman center Mo Latu were impressive during the scrimmage.
– Graham said junior safety Alden Darby and junior tight end Darwin Rogers were not at practice for personal reasons.
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