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Catamounts Open 2009 Fall Camp
Worked through a 26-session, two and a half hour session on Whitmire Stadium
The quest for Western Carolina’s first-ever Southern Conference football championship and vision of ending a 25-year hiatus from the NCAA FCS playoffs began bright and early on Saturday morning as the Catamount football team took to the turf on Bob Waters Field at E.J. Whitmire Stadium for its first practice of the fall.
Saturday’s 26-session, two and a half hour practice was the first of 19 such workouts WCU will endure over the next two weeks prior to the first day of classes in Cullowhee on Monday, Aug. 24. The squad will work through mostly morning practices – which will carry over into Tuesday and Wednesday preparations during the season – with Thursday’s during the preseason to feature two-a-day practice sessions.
Overall, second-year head coach Dennis Wagner was pleased with the opening day of practice, but continued to stress to the players the importance of making improvements every day.
“It was great to be back around out guys in coaching and playing football,” said Wagner following the near 150-minute, on-field session. “For the next two weeks, all we do is play football. There is no school, there are no distractions – we’re here to play football. We need these next two weeks to get better, and to get our offense, defense and special teams installed.”
A combined 87 players dressed in jerseys, shorts and helmets only hit the turf early Saturday morning with stretching and pat-and-go sessions to get loosened up. Each position coach spent time working individually with their respective student-athletes before the units came together as an offense and defense for full-speed, yet no contact, practice.
The team concluded practice with varying distance wind sprints, including dashes of 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards, down-and-back.
“Everyone reported in shape and that is a tribute to our guys and the job that Coach (Brad) Ohrt and his strength and conditioning staff did during the off-season and summer. You can see it already in our first day of practice,” added Wagner.
Three players were held out of or were limited in Saturday’s workout including running back Jayson Williams, who is continuing to come back from a season-ending knee injury a season ago, saw limited repetitions; wide receiver Andrerius Thomas, who is nursing a groin injury and freshman quarterback Ryan World, who is getting over a bout of pneumonia, were held out.
Red-shirt sophomore Zack Jaynes, who started six games under center a season ago and enters camp as the number one signal caller, took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offensive unit. Red-shirt freshman Jonathan Efird and junior transfer Colby McCoy split snaps with the second team, while true freshman – and Asheville native – Randy Pressley worked primarily with the third squad in his first collegiate practice.
The team will continue its preseason preparation with alternating weight room sessions, offense and defense, combined with position, unit and overall team meetings. For the second-straight year, Wagner will use evening team meetings to allow special invited guest speakers from the Western Carolina campus community and various on-campus departments to talk with the squad in helping gear up for the season.
Western Carolina will again hit the practice field on Sunday morning. As a reminder of the WCU Football policy, all practice sessions are closed to the public unless special permission is granted through the Western Carolina Media Relations or Catamount Football office. Individuals who are granted permission to attend practice are reminded to remain in the stadium seating area and not be on the field level.
By Western Carolina University Media Relations