BOCA RATON – As the clock approached noon on a sweltering first camp day in full pads, nearly all of Stephen Leggett’s teammates had already made their way to the locker room.
Despite practice having ended about a half hour earlier, Leggett remained on the field discussing tactics with some of FAU’s offensive linemen.
“I was just picking the offensive linemen’s brains trying to get a little edge,” Leggett said.
Even before the loss of starting defensive tackle Ray Ellis to a season-ending knee injury, the graduation of Trevon Coley and Brandin Bryant to the NFL made the defensive spot a position of concern for FAU.
Now that they are almost certain to break camp as the starters, there’s increased pressure on Leggett and Ogbonda to perform.
“I’d say the D-tackles, that’s the one that we need to focus on, make sure that we’re solid at that position,” defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said.
Without Ellis, Bellantoni is preparing to play Kevin McCrary and Will Davis, two true freshmen, this season.
“They’ve got to be ready to go,” he said.
While the freshman develop, Ogbonda and Leggett will need shoulder the load.
At 6-foot-4 and better than 300 pounds, Ogbonda has about four inches and 25 pounds on Leggett.
Coaches have already commented about an increase in intensity and focus they are seeing from Ogbonda as his final season approaches.
“Shalom is a big dude and he plays hard, and when he does he can make some plays,” Bellantoni said. “He made some pretty big plays out here in the third and short period today.”