SPRING CAMP REPORT 2: Break is over

Football 21/03/2023 20:10:00 Mike Williams

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NORMAL, Ill. — The Illinois State football coaching staff gave its players a week off during spring break from the University to recharge a bit after a busy start to the spring semester, but this break ended abruptly Tuesday when the Redbirds returned to the grass at Hancock Stadium to resume Spring Camp ’23.

For the first time in the spring, the Redbirds put on shoulder pads and had their first touch this spring on a cold, windy morning in the Twin Cities. The ‘Birds shrugged off the early rust and returned to train hard to begin a series of drives and scrums that will lead to the annual Spring Showcase scrimmage on April 15.

Practice Highlights:
• After a pep talk from Head Coach Brock Spack, practice began with a team stretch and special teams circuit, before the team split into positional groups to perform individual exercises.
• After the individual period, the focus shifted to putting pressure on the Redbirds quarterbacks with a pair of pass rush drills… quarterbacks Zack Annexstad, Tommy Rittenhouse and Mason Kaplan each avoided taking turns defending in an attempt to move the offense down the pitch.
• Annexstad finished the exercise 4 for 6 with a pair of completions for Eddie Kasper and one for Daniel Sobkowicz and Wenkers Wright… Rittenhouse went 2 for 4 with completions for I’Shawn Stewart and Jalen Carr and Kaplan was 3 – for-4 with two completed passes for Rylan Crawford.
• On the defensive side, the defensive front forced several misses and rushing throws, and newly converted defensive back Nigel White recorded a pass breakup.
• After the blitz drill, some pods work and the 9v7 session, the 7v7 session started with the quarterbacks trying their luck airing it on the pitch…Annexstad was the first to hit big, as he connected with Sobkowicz on a 30-yard completion downfield on a diving grab from wide…on the next play, Kaplan didn’t want to be outdone and he connected with his former Valparaiso teammate Braden Contreras on a 25-yard completion… two plays later, Annexstad hit another big play when he found Camo Nelson for a 40-yard gain on the ground… Rittenhouse was also solid, going 4 for 4 with connections to Brett Spaulding and Scotty Presson Jr.
• The squad session followed, with the defense making some big saves early, including a sack from Cam Wilson and a tackle for loss from Reese Edwards… as things progressed, Annexstad took the lead stint and had a pair of big completions in Kasper and newcomer Cam Grandy.
• Practice ended with kickers Ian Wagner and Josh Jasek taking turns scoring field goals and extra point attempts through the uprights, while the defense worked on line-up and plans to block kicks.

The Redbirds return to the field Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. for Practice #4. For updates, photos and video from the 2023 Redbird Football Fall Camp, follow the official Twitter accounts (@RedbirdFB) and Instagram (isuredbirdfb) and log on to and the Illinois State Redbirds App: Your sources for Illinois State tickets, Weisbecker Athletic Fund giveaways, media, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.


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