May 5, 2013

Welcome sight at UMaine

Fullback Carlton Charles returns from a year out with a back injury and is sharp in a scrimmage.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ORONO - Late in the ninth annual Jeff Cole spring scrimmage, University of Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski spotted a familiar figure streaking toward the middle of Morse Field on Saturday morning.

click image to enlarge

Carlton Charles

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Backup quarterback Daniel Collins looks on Saturday after signaling a play during the annual University of Maine spring football scrimmage in Orono.

Glenn Jordan/Staff Writer

Wasilewski cocked his right arm and sent the football spiraling toward fullback Carlton Charles, who caught it and raced into the end zone to complete a 23-yard touchdown, the first of the day against a full defense.

"It was good to see Carl out there again," said Wasilewski, who will enter his senior season this fall as the incumbent starter for a team trying to get back into the national playoff picture after a 5-6 campaign in 2012. "Me and Carl are pretty close, so it was good to hit him down the seam there for a touchdown. ... I got pretty juiced up."

Charles, a native of Windham and the brother of former Maine defensive tackle Raibonne Charles, missed all of last season with an injury to his back that kept him in a brace for much of the fall.

Two years ago, as a redshirt freshman, Charles played in all 13 games as the Black Bears reached the NCAA quarterfinals.

"He made some big plays for us two years ago during our playoff year," Wasilewski said. "He made some great catches for (former quarterback) Warren (Smith)."

Later in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, for which the team was divided into white (offense) and blue (defense) jerseys, Charles made a leaping catch of a short Wasilewski pass for another touchdown.

"Carlton was a very, very important contributor to our team in '11," said Coach Jack Cosgrove, who praised Charles' ability to block in a variety of situations, as well as run and catch passes. "He the kind of kid who was salivating to get back. He's cut from the same mold as Raibonne. He loves the game. He's had a good spring."

With classes over and final exams next week, Saturday's sun-splashed scrimmage capped the end of the 15 spring practice sessions allowed for NCAA football programs.

Maine's defense appeared ahead of its offense for much of the morning, with defensive back Axel Ofori and linebacker Troy Eastman each making an interception, and the blue jerseys forcing the white into four field-goal attempts. Sean Decloux, wrapping up his freshman year, nailed all four kicks, from 40, 28, 39 and 39 yards.

"I like the fact that when we got stopped, we came out and kicked field goals," Cosgrove said. "We have a talented young kicker in Sean Decloux. He really responded last (fall) to the opportunity he got when Bryan Harvey went down, as a true freshman."

Cosgrove said Decloux's weight-room work resulted in an additional 20 pounds, his mechanics are sound and his attitude is upbeat and "very refreshing."

Among other players to catch Cosgrove's eye this spring are outside linebacker Arron Achey ("probably the best-conditioned athlete we have on the team"), defensive lineman Pat Ricard ("he fires me up") and middle linebacker Trevor Bates ("every practice he's better").

Bates, a native of Westbrook, is making the transition from defensive end. He said he's excited about the position change.

"You're on two feet, you're flying around, you get a little bit more freedom," Bates said. "You're kind of the quarterback of the defense. I just thought it was overall more fitting for me."

Running backs Nigel Jones and Zedric Joseph had most of the carries, and backup quarterback Daniel Collins connected on a long pass to Najee Green. With the offense operating from inside the 20, Jordan Dunn and Sean Reuss caught short touchdown passes and Jones ran in from 6 yards out.

Among those watching from the sidelines, wearing jerseys but no pads because of injuries, were running back Rickey Stevens, wide receiver Damarr Aultman and defensive end Michael Cole.

"I've seen some progress," said Cole, coming back from a knee injury that cost him the final six games of 2012. "It definitely is tough being out here just watching the drills rather than doing them and getting better every day."

Charles knows. He went through something similar last spring and fall, and is happy to be back on the field.

"I was still a little shaky coming out here, trying to get in the flow and learning the speed of the game again after missing a year," he said. "It's a fast game."

Maine opens its 122nd season on Aug. 31 in Virginia against Norfolk State.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

 

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