The Suburbanite
  • Former Green stars part of Akron football's building process

  • The Akron Zips are looking to make the long climb back to the top of the Mid-American Conference and two former Green Bulldogs are in the middle of that effort.

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  • The Akron Zips are looking to make the long climb back to the top of the Mid-American Conference and two former Green Bulldogs are in the middle of that effort.
    Andrew Pratt and Dylan Brumbaugh have been friends since their days playing for the Bulldogs and joined forces again when Pratt became part of Terry Bowden's first recruiting class at UA in 2012. Brumbaugh, a sophomore offensive lineman, was a backup on last season's 1-11 team and is eager to see the program turn around and regain the MAC East-winning form it possessed in 2005.
    "Last year, we were in five or six of those games and if we had just finished, we would have won those games," Brumbaugh said. "It was tough, but once you get that first one, it will start coming."
    Brumbaugh and his fellow linemen have learned to be quick on their feet and hustle around the field in the up-tempo system Bowden has implemented on offense.
    "You have to move quickly, but once you get used to the fast pace, it clicks pretty easily," Brumbaugh said.
    His coach believes the 6-foot-5, 304-pound sophomore has the skills to make an impact.
    "He's got such great size and he has a chance to really be one of our best linemen," Bowden added. "We just need to see a leadership and maturity out of him."
    Pratt, who has battled a nagging calf injury during training camp but expects to be ready for the start of the season, saw increased playing time throughout his freshman season and caught 10 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He has focused on getting stronger this offseason, an aspect of his game he didn't spend as much time on in high school.
    "I got a lot faster and a lot stronger and I think our whole (receiver) group is doing really well," Pratt said. "Coming in, in high school, I never really got after it enough and coming into college, you definitely learn (strength) is what you need."
    Pratt is also learning the game of football, not having played since he was in middle school the way many of his teammates have. Playing only at the tail end of his high school career, Pratt faces a steep learning curve and must zero in on his technique and knowledge of the game as much as possible.
    "He's stronger and we're looking for consistency from him. He hasn't played football all his life and we should have redshirted him … we should have redshirted a lot of our freshmen last year," Bowden said of Pratt. "He's just a lot more mature this year.”
    Both players are part of what Bowden deems a program in progress. After implementing his system last year, the veteran coach and his staff saw players learn what was expected of them and buy into the process.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We're a team that's building our program and we're in the development of that program,” Bowden said. “Last year, we began to believe in ourselves, our system and our coaches and this year, we said, 'Let's make a commitment to work even harder.' It's a team that's blue collar and willing to work as hard as they can.”
    Playing college football close to home has afforded Pratt and Bumbaugh's families the chance to attend games regularly and Pratt's parents have taken advantage, missing just one game of his freshman season.
    "Being so close to home, I like seeing everyone that I know … my family travels really well,” Pratt said. “They've been at every game except one in Florida last year.”
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB

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