There they were, the long and short of it, as 5-foot-5 Roly Borrego and 6-5 Rudy Trevino slapped hands during a recent workout.
As North brings spring football, the program is intent on showing that last year's 1-9 record was an aberration that has already subsided into history. If the slick little runner Borrego can hide and seek behind the mammoth Coog line led by D-1 prospect Trevino, that will be a real nice start toward redemption.
The Coogs started spring ball with a pretty sound looking offensive group, with Trevino - who has been contacted by numerous colleges including USC, Baylor, Texas A&M and TCU - at 300 pounds and looking every bit like a potentially dominant force in the fall.
But Coach Roy Garza says that Trevino, as good as he is, is just the tip of the iceberg. The O-line group averages 300-plus from tackle to tackle.
"We really have a lot of size and strength with that group this year, and it's one of our biggest positives heading into the spring," said Garza, whose group saw a three-year stretch of playoff appearances end in 2010. "We'll have multiple looks on that side of the ball; we will still go spread some, but we will also take advantage of our hosses and try and pound the ball, too."
Borrego is a serviceable ball-carrier who has gained more than 1,000 yards over the past two seasons. As a senior, he will share a heavy load in the run game while a new quarterback, multi-sport athlete Joel Cuellar, gets the reads down at his new position. Cuellar was a receiver in the past but will now step into the slot at QB, with junior Vince Ortiz, a starter at free safety, also expected to see some snaps this season.
With speedsters Reyes Espino and Tevin Brown looking to become go-to options in the backfield and receiver, the Coogs have some gamebreakers to go with veteran possession man Mike Hinojosa. They will also rely somewhat on a fullback/H-back for the first time in several seasons, as Max Tijerina, a bulky and quick senior, penciled in as the main man there.
During the first week of workouts the defense was developing as a relatively small contingent with good speed. This unit allowed 37 points per game in 2010 but will assuredly be out to better that mark.
Higinio Cruz, a rangy outside linebacker, is one of the guys being counted on to contribute in a big way for a unit that lost seven full-time starters, including some super linebackers. Cruz is one of the fastest kids on the roster and seems to move well laterally as well. Diego Sandoval, almost a carbon copy of Cruz physically, will be the other outside backer, giving North some wheels on the middle perimeter.
The rest of the front seven will be filled with newcomers for the most part. The most experience is in the secondary, where Ortiz, Jerry de la Garza, and Keith Silva all slated to see the field early and often.
While some observers might have already written the Coogs off after last year's injury-plagued season, Garza and his staff are steadily at work in teaching mode, and they think they can get back to their winning ways in 2011.
"Spring is a good chance to gather your kids together and get them learning and into the discipline of the program again," he said. "We get to see where we are and start making some plans for fall. I think we have seen some good things so far."
NEXT WEEK: A visit with the new-look Jaguars of Economedes, under first-year coach Gabe Pena.