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Austin McDaniel was one of three players to receive a scholarship during fall camp.
Austin McDaniel was one of three players to receive a scholarship during fall camp.
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Aug. 7, 2013

TULSA, Okla. - For the first two days of full-pad workouts on Harwell Field, the Tulsa defense used speed and intensity to get the better of the offensive side of the ball.

On Wednesday, however, the offense turned the tables and took a step ahead of the defense during team drills. The attacking side kept moving forward during a drill in which it attempted to get first downs, while the defense tried to get off the field.

"Today was a different day than the last two, in the sense that, as we went on, the offense began to dominate today," Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship said. "The defense had really dominated the last two days, but today I really think the offense got the edge and started moving. It's really hard to evaluate each day. I fully suspect the defense will come back tomorrow. That's what makes fall camp the absolute best, when you can get better and compete and go back and forth. That's how it goes if you're going to be good. You sure don't want one side to always dominate. It was encouraging to see the offense kind of bounce back today. They've been kind of struggling the last two days."



Over the first week of fall camp, Blankenship has awarded three walk-on players a full scholarship. Sophomore offensive lineman Billy Lafortune, junior defensive back Austin McDaniel and senior defensive back Jonathan Chavira all received full athletic scholarships.

After Wednesday's practice, when Blankenship finished addressing the team in the huddle, he announced that he was rewarding Chavira for his hard work and dedication. The announcement was met with a roar of cheers from the rest of the Golden Hurricane.

"It's always one of my most pleasurable things to announce to our team scholarships being awarded," said Blankenship. Jonathan Chavira is a young man that's been with us, now in his fourth season, and he still has two seasons to play. He's from Purcell, Oklahoma, and he's been here just doing it.

"What I love is the response from his teammates. I know I did the right thing when I see how his team responds. These guys, to just erupt into cheering and celebration for their brother is pretty fun. That's what we've seen in the meeting room, and then today we did it down on the field. Over the last several years, we've had a strong walk-on program. Guys that come in and really improve themselves and stay the course, a lot of times they find themselves with the big offer."

Lafortune, a native of Tulsa and a graduate of Holland Hall, redshirted in 2011 and played in three games in 2012, seeing action against Tulane, Nicholls State and Houston.

"Billy showed more progress in the weight room this year than what any of us expected," Blankenship said. "I think the biggest thing was his whole mindset. He went from a guy that was happy to be here, to seeing that, `If I really go to work, I have a chance to start.' He came out of the summer in great condition with rave reviews from our strength staff. He's a guy that has always played well, but been undersized. He's gotten a lot stronger and he's helped himself size-wise."

McDaniel is a native of Waco, Texas. After sitting out the 2010 season with a redshirt, he earned letters for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He has played in 18 career games on special teams - five games in 2011 and 13 games in 2012. He recorded five tackles, including a season-high two stops against Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.

"Austin has been working into the rotation, special teams and all. But I think he's an amazing player," said Blankenship. "If you talk to the guys in the weight room, they think he's top five on the team. He is an incredibly gifted athlete that's playing corner. He's kind of making a name for himself that's being the fourth guy mentioned all the time in the rotation at corner. I think it's going to be really hard to keep him off the field. And that's on the defensive side, not just special teams."

The Golden Hurricane returns to the practice field Thursday.

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