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Eastern Washington, new coach Aaron Best open spring football practice

UPDATED: Fri., April 14, 2017, 5:02 p.m.

Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud said he’s glad to be back on the field, even if it’s only spring practice. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud said he’s glad to be back on the field, even if it’s only spring practice. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Everyone had an extra spring in their step Tuesday afternoon at Roos Field.

And why not? Skies were clear and temperatures were in the upper 50s for the first day of spring football at Eastern Washington.

Eagles football had that new-car smell – and a new driver in Aaron Best.

Eastern’s new head coach had the fastest motor on the field, jogging from one drill to another and occasionally pausing to soak it all in: This is Aaron Best’s team now.

“The first of anything is always good, you’re always giddy,” said Best, who took over the program in January following Beau Baldwin’s departure for California.

The season opener at Texas Tech is five months away, but Tuesday’s practice marked the beginning of a new era.

It began with Eastern’s former offensive line coach taking the field, walking past his old classroom in the south end zone. The new teacher is former Eagles center Jase Butorac, who’s only two years out of uniform.

Downfield, other new assistants were on the red turf for the first time, including offensive coordinator Fred Salanoa, wide receivers coach Jay Dumas, running backs coach Kevin Maurice and quarterbacks coach Bodie Reeder.

Each received a few visits from Best as the action picked up.

“We’ve been in the classroom, so to speak, for the last two months,” Best said. “We have a bunch of new coaches on offense and we want to see how they gel.”

That will be one of the biggest chores in spring ball, which concludes with the Red-White Spring Game on April 29. Quarterback Gage Gubrud was eager to get to work.

“We’re just getting used to seeing them in the offices and talking ball, but we’ve yet to do it on the field,” said Gubrud, who comes off a redshirt sophomore year that saw him break the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record for passing yards with 5,160.

“We just want to see how their attitudes are and how they coach,” Gubrud said.

Meanwhile, Best was embracing the big picture. Tongue in cheek, he said, “We don’t play a game at the end of spring.”

Hence, spring ball is all about fundamentals.

It’s also about competition. Asked how it felt to have an established quarterback in the fold, Best replied that every position is up for grabs.

“No position is sewn up. We want as close a quarterback competition as we can,” Best said.

The Eagles will practice again without pads on Wednesday, then don full pads on Friday and Saturday. The first scrimmage is April 15.

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