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GWU presenting positive front as practice looms on horizon
At a college football media day event, like the one the Big South Conference hosted Thursday at the Crowne Plaza hotel, one fallacy about the proceeding is that there’s an official answer for everything.
From preseason Players of the Year and all-conference lists, to the annual media poll affixing certain teams as the “ones to beat,” it all seems to be a ‘cut-and-dried’ issue.
In this league, when it comes to football, nothing could be further from the truth as history shows. Now entering its 10th year, in the Big South the notion that one team can whip any other on any given Saturday has become a reality.
Even with the change in coaches at Gardner-Webb University in the offseason, there’s plenty of reason for optimism in Boiling Springs in regards to the 2011 season ahead. And being picked in a tie with Charleston Southern for fourth place in preseason predictions only serves to fire up the Runnin’ Bulldogs even more.
“They really don’t know what we have here,” said GWU junior offensive guard Jamie Dunaway (6-foot-4, 285). “That’s great. The team is really looking forward to it.”
The Lyman, S.C., native, one of six preseason Big South All-Conference choices for the ’Dogs, knows becoming a force in the league again is a tough assignment.
“We just have to go play ball,” Dunaway said. “Everyone wants to show what we can do, and we want to show what a new attitude we have.
“With our new (coaching) staff, especially on the offensive line, we have to be together. I want the guy right beside me seeing and calling the same thing I’m seeing.”
First-year GWU head coach Ron Dickerson Jr. says it’s all about the work ethic in building a program the right way.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” he said, “they put their helmets, pants and shoes on the same way we do. It’s a gladiator sport. If you’re not prepared, you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble.
“You look around this league and you see teams with All-Americans at quarterback, running back or tight end, and these coaches who have so much experience. You have to be totally prepared to play against that.”
With so many starters returning (16), GWU hopes it can get off to a good start and get noticed.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team and the university,” Dickerson said. “What we’re trying to instill in our guys is you have to play hard, that you can never have a lazy play.”
GWU players arrive on campus on Aug. 4 and begin drills two days later. The season opener is Sept. 3 versus visiting Brevard.
“I think our coaching staff has been doing a great job with the players, both on and off the football field,” Dickerson said. “They’ve spent time with the guys in study hall and when they just see them around. You have to make that connection with the players.”
By Alan Ford, The Star