Spring Peek: RB

Pete Cordelli

Western Michigan returns intact at the running back position for 2003. Leading the way is senior Philip Reed who amassed 1,113 yards rushing last season to go along with 10 touchdowns. Running Backs' Coach Pete Cordelli breaks down the spring for us at running back.

Let's start with Ameer Ismail who entered Western after a highly decorated high school career. Can you talk about his progress and your plans for him this season?
The first thing you notice about Ameer is that he is a tremendous worker. He did a great job against the defense as a Stallion last year and he has been learning as he goes out there. He is a real powerful guy. He can wear you down as the game goes on. It will be interesting to see how he reacts this season. He is a very tough, physical blocker and I'd like to see him work on catching the ball better.

Phil Reed enters 2003 as the #1 running back for sure?
Yes, he is the #1 guy entering the spring for sure. He is trying to improve his vision, especially in the one-back offense. He is also working on his blocking techniques to pick up the linebackers and defensive ends. He'll also work on his route running and catching the football.

Trovon Riley finished real strong against Central Michigan. Talk about your expectations for him this season.
He really played well at Central Michigan. He has a burst and he is really improving his strength. He bounces outside and he is gone. He really got a big confidence boost in the Central game.

Daniel Marks has been fighting some injuries. How does he look entering the spring?
I put him right there with Trovon as a #2 back. He has really worked hard and he is healthy. He has worked hard in the weight room and I think he is quicker, bigger and stronger.

What are some goals for the spring you have?
We are going to concentrate on pass blocking and pass catching. We need these guys to be complete backs to help this offense make strides. We need to work on our cuts and reads each play. Defenses are only becoming more complex and we have to pick these things up. I'm excited for this spring with all of the competition we are going to have.

What effect will the Seelye facility have after a brutal spring last year?
No matter what the weather is outside we'll have a constant 72 degrees in there. The key is that guys are not going to be worried at all about staying warm or dry. We will have their complete focus so I think we'll be more productive than last spring.

What were the factors in your mind for such a successful recruiting class after back-to-back losing seasons?
I think it is a combination of several things. We are very strong academically and we graduate our players. You cannot play this game forever and parents realize that and love our academics here. We also have the best facilities in the conference which is a big help. I think we have an excellent coaching staff and we are a good football team despite the record we had the past two seasons. I think our players hosted very well and truly these guys have a lot to do with it. They spend the most time with the recruits and they are the best recruiters we have.

How have things gone for you in your first season here?
I'm really as happy as I can be to be here helping this program right now. It has gone very, very well.

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Senior Phil Reed returns for his senior year after rushing for 1,113 yards and touchdowns in 2002. …


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