With 17 offensive lettermen returning including arguably the nation's best Division I-AA passer, junior All-American Jamie Martin, you'd think Weber State's spring football practices would have been lopsided in favor of the guys with the ball.

"It seems to be the other way around," says Coach Dave Arslanian, approaching his third year and ready to concluded spring practice with Saturday's 2 p.m. Purple and White Intra-Squad game at Wildcat Stadium.There have been injuries to offensive players, and the offensive line had some holes to fill. "We have some pretty good players to do it with; it's just taking time to get some continuity," Arslanian says.

With this spring's practice cut a week short by a new NCAA rule, the fine tuning time is slim.

"The biggest thing," however, reports Arslanian, "is the defense is coming along well." He says younger players are anxious to seize their opportunities. Some up-n-comers who've impressed him defensively include redshirt sophomore cornerback Mark Hood, redshirt junior corner Brent Lamb, sophomore strong safety Dave Costantino, junior rover ("Wildcat") George Kelly and sophomore linebacker Jantz Afuvai.

Senior free safety Bill Reiser and linebacker Reid Leland are there to lead the way for the young defensive backfield.

Martin is already third in Weber career passing with 4,875 yards and needs just 1,273 yards to take over from leader Jeff Carlson. He threw nearly that much in eight games as a freshman.

The task for Weber is to groom a backup, and that's redshirt freshman Rob Westervelt, who's been dividing the repetitions evenly with Martin all spring. "We're working hard to bring him along," says Arslanian. "We made that a priority for the spring."