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November 6, 2007

UM commit Francis improved each week

A.J. Francis saved his best for last.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive lineman from Gonzaga (D.C.) College recorded four solo tackles and two assists in the Eagles’ 20-13 season-ending loss to St. John’s on Friday.

“He was in on more tackles than he had been throughout the season,” said Gonzaga head coach Joe Reyda. “He was filling holes, he was getting pressure on the quarterback and he did a lot of good things. ... He just came to play on defense, which was good. We really needed it. And he did a good job.”

Gonzaga finished its season at 4-5, but Reyda said Francis and the rest of the team steadily improved each week. The improvement culminated in what Reyda called Francis’ best game of the year.

Francis played on the offensive and defensive lines for Gonzaga all year, earning first-team all-conference honors on defense. He recorded 20 solo tackles, nine assists and two sacks on the year.

Reyda was pleased with Francis’ play on offense and defense, but thinks he’s probably best suited as a nose guard in a 4-3 defense. His work on the O-Line should benefit him in college.

“He’s big, he’s strong and for his size he moves very well,” Reyda said. “He’s got good footwork. I think with him, getting in a program and just concentrating on getting bigger and stronger and faster [will be the key].”

Francis has some work to do before heading to College Park, but Reyda is confident he’ll put in the effort and be able to make an impact.

“I think he needs to lift a little more and just get defined,” Reyda said. “He’s going to get stronger, but he’s got to keep running, which I know he will do. Like I said, he’s got good footwork. As long as he just continues to lift and run and do agility work, he’s going to be fine...

“A.J.’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s likable kid and has a great personality. He’s going to do what you ask of him and I think he’ll do very well at Maryland.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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