Photo courtesy of Old Dominion athletics
During the first week of spring practice at Old Dominion, it seems that coordinator Blake Seiler’s defense is on the verge of something big — with faces new and old working to perfect the scheme.
“It’s great to get back on the field,” Seiler said. “It’s great for us as coaches but it’s even better for the players. You can just see it in them the way they walk around the facility every day and it’s good to see the strides we’ve made from fall to spring.”
Without football in the fall, one could worry about players leaving and players not retaining knowledge. Seiler says that he has seen the opposite in the Monarchs.
“There’s been a lot of retention, a lot of carry over,” Seiler commented. “You don’t quite know how that’s going to be since we didn’t play in the fall but I’m so glad we got that time to practice in the fall because we are lightyears ahead of where we would be right now.”
While it’s too early to identify roles, Seiler says he can already see leaders forming. One of those leaders is sixth-year senior linebacker Jordan Young.
“There’s a couple of guys like Jordan Young who has played a lot of football here. He is super savvy and a good football player,” Seiler said. “(Young) is one of those guys who is on the next level, he isn’t just trying to get lined up right, he knows it so now he’s reading the offense and knows what they are trying to do.”
But Young isn’t the only player Seiler has seen promise from so far.
“I think there are some other guys like Geronda Hall; he has been really explosive,” Seiler remarked. “I like what he’s shown through the fall and the offseason. Some young guys coming up like Ryan Henry, Steven Williams. O’Shea Jackson has shown some good things — he has come a long way. Marcus Haynes and Cory Jackson are our other edge guys. They look good for us.”
There is also a trio of freshmen on the back end of the defense gaining attention.
LaMareon James broke Twitter when he announced he was coming to ODU, choosing the Monarchs over Pittsburgh in February 2020. 247Sports’ Composite ranks him as the best recruit in ODU history, with a .8608 composite score. James seems to be coming along well in the Monarchs’ secondary.
“Lamareon is just super, super athletic and really hasn’t played a whole lot of cover corner,” Seiler said. “With him, it’s not an athleticism thing; he can really run and cover which is great. We just have to coach the details and technique.”
Another member of the 2020 class, from James’ rival school, is linebacker Malcolm Britt. The Composite has Britt as the 18th-best recruit in ODU program history.
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“Malcolm, on the other end of it, if you went onto the practice field and you listened to that guy make the calls and run the show at mike linebacker, you would think he is a fourth-year player in a college program,” Seiler exclaimed. “He just is a high energy, super dedicated, super smart, studies the game. He is no-nonsense, he is all business and runs the show like a backer should.”
Levi Wentz only played one season of football before coming to ODU. His story is a special one. The staff has already seen growth in the young man.
“Levi, he is like a baby deer; that’s what I call him,” Seiler said. “(He is) long, athletic, and hasn’t lifted a whole lot of weights so he is getting stronger and stronger and stronger every day. He got here in August, he looks like a different kid right now than he did in August. We moved him to outside backer; he went from safety to outside backer. In high school, he was a corner, so as far as playing football, he is really raw but he’s got a lot of the things you can’t coach.”
It should be great to see all the speed ODU has brought in and how it will mesh with the experience of the more seasoned players on the defensive side of the ball for the Monarchs. For now, its safe to say that Seiler likes what he sees.