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With only a few open practices left before Old Dominion plays Wake Forest, storylines are popping up all over the place for the Monarchs, and multiple guys are showing why they deserve playing time.
After the two most recent sessions, it’s time to sit down and evaluate what has happened on the field and prognosticate a bit:
Being Sore Vs. Injured
Toward the end of Monday’s session, head coach Ricky Rahne told his players there is a difference between being “sore” and being “injured”. In a sport as physical as football, that line can often be a gray area.
“Football is a game of toughness,” Rahne remarked. “Quite frankly all sports are nowadays with the amount of physical prowess with the people that are out there. So there are going to be days when you are sore and muscles are going to ache, but there is a big difference being injured where you physically can’t perform.”
How ODU Football Approaches Mental Health
Mental health can be a struggle, but take that struggle and pair it with being a “macho” D1 football player and it can be hard to talk about due to the variety of stigmatisms that come with the topic of mental health. ODU has a plan in place for that, one which Rahne elaborated on and is refreshing to hear about.
“We (the program) have somebody that they can go to, where guys that need it can go,” Rahne said. “We (the coaches) obviously have our doors open, and our coaching staff is a big part of that. Often there are things that we just aren't equipped to deal with, and we will advise them (players) to go to a professional which we have access to.
“We have some other people we bring in just from a character perspective that allows them (players) to talk to somebody that is in the program but has no effect on anything like playing time,” Rahne added.
Virginia Recruit Ali Jennings Fitting in After WVU Transfer
Highland Springs product Ali Jennings seems to be fitting in like he's right at home at ODU after transferring from West Vriginia during the offseason. Jennings was a highly sought-after recruit coming out of Highland Springs, but the former ODU staff was not one of his offers the first time around.
This time though, he has a chance to make his mark closer to home and figures to be a key cog in the WR corps this season.
“Being from Virginia that helped, but the kids took to him pretty quickly. He is one of the guys now,” Rahne said. “I don't think any of our transfers are thought about as transfers anymore, he has fit in very, very well, and I am happy we have him. I think he is going to be a very dynamic playmaker for us and one of the guys we are going to count on."
“I’ve known coach Fontel Mines since I was little, he went to Hermitage so he was a guy I knew and he recruited me heavily,” Jennings said of his relationship to the staff before finishing at Highland Springs. “Coach (Mark) Dupuis (WR coach) recruited me at Penn State so I had a good relationship with them. It (ODU) felt like the best place and I got to come home and play with my cousin (WR Isiah Paige).”
■ Von Harvey caught a great pass in short-yardage Friday from Hayden Wolff for a score. Harvey, a redshirt freshman out of Lake Taylor (Norfolk) has been impressive this camp after playing mostly on special teams in 2019.
■ Reese Poffenbarger looks extremely athletic and mobile at QB. While he may not start, don’t be shocked to see him in a game at some point this season.
■ Stone Smartt had a very good rushing score on Monday in short-yardage. Smartt is athletic and looks like a better passer than he was in 2019.
■ Levi Wentz, after only playing one season of football in high school, looks like a very good tackler.
■ Avery Ford caught a great ball in short-yardage Monday and broke a few tackles to get into the end zone. Ford is a freshman out of Centreville High in Clifton, VA.
■ Freshman DB Ali Ali and junior DE Marcus Haynes both had very impressive pass breakups during Monday’s session. Big things are expected of Haynes this season.
■ At the end of Monday’s session, Poffenbarger found UGA transfer Trey Blount for a short-yardage touchdown that appeared to be an inside pass, which would be the first time I’ve seen an ODU offense attempt that.