Fullback and a little more

One doesn't often think of a tailback coming in at 6 feet and 244 pounds, but Coach DuPaix does have someone like that in his cadre of backs. That someone is Iona Pritchard. He is actually slated to play fullback, but when it comes to Pritchard, there might be more than meets the eye.

Thursday's first day of fall camp was hot, very hot. In fact, if the Cougars were actually Utes, Cosmo would have laid hardboiled eggs. If Cosmo was an Aggie, he would have produced evaporated milk. It was that hot! And fullback Iona Pritchard endured it all as one of the primary backs on day one.

"It was fun and it was hot!" Pritchard said about playing in the 95-degree heat. "Physically, I feel good but the only negative thing physically was I felt hot and dehydrated."

The scorching heat did take a toll on the players, especially after Coach Mendenhall and his staff made the team do grueling conditioning exercises over and over again with no sign of mercy.

"I thought I was drinking enough water, but obviously not today," said Pritchard. "I was running around thinking, ‘Man, I know I'm faster than this! I know I'm in better shape than this but, man, I can't even see!'"

Although the heat sucked away energy from the players like a Hoover deluxe vacuum cleaner, Pritchard pressed forward without any thought of his previous leg injury.

"It was really tough but it was a lot of fun being out there with the team," he said. "I feel good and I don't feel like I'm favoring anything as far as my injury goes. I feel good and don't think about it, so I guess I'm pretty much over that in regards to the mental aspect of the recovery. I just go out and do my thing."

During spring camp, Pritchard took advantage of an early return to the practice field after he never received word from the coaches that he wasn't ready. A fierce competitor, Pritchard wasn't fully recovered – he couldn't even jump an inch or two off his injured leg to catch a pass one day and resorted to making an acrobatic move to make the catch – but that wasn't going to stop him. It's much different now.

"I feel a lot different now than I did back then and it's not even close," Pritchard said with a smile.

Now back in the thick of fall camp action, Pritchard said his leg is physically where it was prior to his injury.

"Yeah, I feel like it is [back to normal], so I'm good to go! The biggest difference now, in comparison to last spring, is that I feel really good. Physically my leg feels great cutting and driving off of it to get downfield."

And the mental side of the recovery?

"As far as the mental side, not once can I think of one time throughout this entire practice that I thought about my leg," said Pritchard. "It was more about, ‘Man, I should have drank more water! Man, I should have drank more water!' That's what I was thinking the whole time."

On the first day of fall camp, Michael Alisa was the primary running back and received the most reps. Playing the same position with the twos was David Foote.

"You know, we have some really good backs like Michael Alisa and David Foote," said Pritchard who, in a humble way, has difficulty talking about his own success over that of others. "I'm just trying to add to what they bring and complement what they bring to the table in any way I can."

Playing alongside both Alisa and Foote at the fullback position, Pritchard not only blocked by taking the lead in run plays, but he also ran the ball quite a few times, showing a well-rounded ability as a back.

"I'm just trying to contribute in a lot of different ways this fall camp, and that's what I'm going to do in every aspect of this offense," said Pritchard. "I feel like I can contribute in a lot of different ways than just one. That's my goal for fall camp and the season."

Pritchard will be right in the thick of the offensive backfield, whether it's to block or provide some power running as a change of pace.

"I feel like I can contribute at the fullback spot, and if Coach gives me the opportunity to contribute in other ways, I feel like I can do that as well," he said. "If he asks me to run the ball, I'll do that as well."

There should be more carries to around now, as running back Joshua Quezada decided to transfer shortly before the start of fall camp.

"You know, Josh is a good guy and I think he had a lot to bring to the table as well," said Pritchard. "He's a great guy and did some great things for this program when he was here.

"But like I said, we have a lot of guys who are going to step up. I would say we have a big stable of backs competing. We're going to miss Josh but we have guys like Michael Alisa and David Foote who are just as good and can do a lot of things in my opinion."

On a day in which even the sun was looking for some shade, the Cougar backs ran very well behind a line still in the process of solidifying itself. Everyone from Alisa to Foote to Pritchard found success in multiple ways, which was good to see. Now let's see if they can continue to burn up the practice turf when the pads come on.

"I expect us to continue to get better and better," Pritchard said. "We had a great summer and that led to a great first day. Now we just have clean a few things up and keep going. I just hope it's not as hot next time. Man that was tough!"


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