Day One, 8/7/2004
Day one of football camp started out with 6:30 am workouts consisting of about an hour of speed/agility stations and some team running. At 7:30, we had special team meetings followed by positions meetings until 9:00 am. In the position meetings, we stated our personal goals for the upcoming season. A few of my goals were to establish myself as the best tight end in division IAA and to be a top five tight end in the country after this season. I stated that I have and will outwork anyone in the country to reach this goal. Then we were off until 1:00pm when we reported for treatment and meetings until 3:00.
3:00 pm was our first real practice of fall camp. It lasted about 25 periods (five minutes per period), and it went well. We have only installed some basic plays, and we were somewhat limited since we were only in shorts and helmets; however, we did finish up practice with a twenty-five-play team period that proved fairly successful for the offense. Even though we only have a few plays installed, I still managed to make a good catch on 3rd and three. That will hopefully be an insight to this season.
Day Two, 8/8/2004
Our second day of practice once again started at 6:30 am with weights and conditioning. Practice lasted until 7:30, and it was pretty intense. Some of the new guys have already quit because of the intensity of college football, but that's ok because we need to weed out the weak links. I am continuing to work hard, and I am certainly not just going through the motions.
Practice started today again at 3:30, and it lasted until about 6:15. We were in helmets again, so the offense was a little slow and sluggish. We have yet to outperform the defense; however, we will put on shoulder pads tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a different story tomorrow.
I have really been demanding a lot of myself, and when I don't excel like I expect to I get a little bit down. Hard work will always pay off in the end, so I am going to continue to move forward, and things will fall into place. Part of the frustration has come from our limited play calling, but limited play calling is expected this early in camp. I am really excited to see how our offense can excel when we have our entire system installed. We have a lot of talented players, so we just need to learn to gel together into one unit, playing toward a common goal.
All in all, practice two was a mediocre one. We expect more out of ourselves. Things are going to pick up, though, because we can have a great team. I have been on a lot of teams, and this one can be a special one if we continue to work together.
Day Three, 8/9/2004
Once again, wakeup this morning was at 5:45. We were working out and conditioning by 6:30am. My teammates and I really picked up the intensity in our workouts. We are really starting to see a purpose in our hard work on and off the field. At meetings, we installed more of our basic pass plays. We are approaching unity as an offense every hour.
Tight ends were on the field at 3:10 (twenty-minutes early) to get some extra work in before practice. We have some young tight ends that are starting to come around and see a purpose in all that we are doing. Practice in general was intense, as we finally put on some shoulder pads and got to hit. We were really excited to hit and get after each other. As an offense we are still a little bit sluggish, but we are starting to come together as a unit. From a personal standpoint, I was happy with my performance today. I finally caught some balls and made plays. I felt aggressive and fresh. Every practice, I want to do something to make myself standout as the player that I can be. This was an above average practice that will continue to improve as the days go on.
I am looking forward to a great practice tomorrow, where we can improve on our mistakes, and move forward as a unit on both sides of the ball.
Day Five, 8/11/2004
Today we had the same wakeup time (5:45), and we still had morning workouts; however, they held me out of morning workouts because my knee was a little bit sore. The soreness was not from surgery. We still had our regular meeting times, so we had some time to rest.
Today was also media day. About ten of us went into our media room and went through a couple of interviews with Channel 6 (Paducah, KY), Dave Winder, who does our weekly football show, and a couple of newspapers. All of that went well, and I was surprised how excited some people on the outside are about our upcoming year. I was also surprised how many people have been following me despite my previous injury.
We started practice at 3:30, and it was our first day in full pads. We installed a couple more plays today, so our offense was more explosive. We had a decent practice, but we did remain very physical. The defense beat us today. We had more turnovers than necessary; however, we did show some life at the end of practice when scored from the red-zone back-to-back times. I was happy about making some big blocks and a couple of catches, but I would still like to be more involved in our passing offense. All in all it was a decent first practice in pads.
Day Six, 8/12/2004, Practice 1
Today was the start of our first two-a-days. We were on the field at 6:20 with the start of practice being 6:30. We had to wake up at 5:30 to be in the training room for treatment. Practice went well, but we were a little bit sluggish at first. We had a regular practice as far as our schedule goes, but I can still see our team making strides on both sides of the ball.
We ended our practice with a couple of offense vs. defense drives inside the red-zone. We moved the ball well, but did not score on the first drive. The next drive, Adam Fisher (quarterback) and I connected on a jump ball in the end zone for a touchdown. We managed to score on one of the next two ensuing possessions.
I was happy with my physical play in this morning's practice, but I still want to be more of a devastating blocker each play. Our offensive line is still growing together, so we will eventually come around.
8/12/2004, Practice Two
Practice two started at 3:30, and we were in full pads. The weather was great again, with the high probably being around 85. We had a regular 24 period practice, but we got after it. We had a couple of live situations that the offense capitalized on. In one play, I took a flat from a bootleg pass up the sidelines for a good gain. I was satisfied with my personal performance as well as our team's performance.
Coach Pannunzio is really starting to challenge us now as we get into the grind. We have a different atmosphere around hear than we ever have had before. Our team is really working hard, and we are all getting along even though we are being so physical. Our team got better today.
Day Seven, 8/13/2004
We started our drills early today as usual. The coaches are really testing us, but we are all rising to the occasion. I think that is the sign of a mature, hardworking team. We are really in the grind now, but it is going well. We are taking steps forward that we haven't really seen in the past.
Practice today was an intense one, and it went great for me. Today was my best practice so far. We were really tested, and I was called on to run the ball in our Oklahoma drill. My goal was to run physical, and not go down easy. I ran over a couple of the defenders, so I was happy with that. I was also challenged on our board drill four times in a row, but I won every single time. It wasn't even close, and I was extremely happy with my intense attitude.
I carried my intense attitude throughout the rest of practice by making big, key blocks in our inside drill, and making some good catches in 7-on-7. We were also challenged to a couple of live situations like 3rd and 4, 4th and 1, and 3rd and seven, and we split with the defense on most of them.
The offensive line also stepped up to the occasion. Our new running back, Nick Turner (Mississippi State transfer), is really an amazing player. In addition, our defense really is flowing to the ball and making some great plays.
Like I said before, I was really happy with the performances today.
Day 8, 8/14/2004
Today we got to sleep in a little bit, which was great. We didn't start practice until 8 am, and it was just a walk through to prepare for our scrimmage at 3:30. We still had meetings, and the same basic routine, so we had a little less down time before our scrimmage.
I reported for treatment today at 1:30, and heated up before our meetings. We reviewed some of our plays for the younger guys, and then we were on the field by 3:05. Coach Garrett (TE coach) has some new stretch bands that he wanted us to try, and they actually worked pretty well, even though I didn't want to admit it.
Prior to our scrimmage we went through about a twelve period practice which consisted of inside drill, half line drill, special teams, and some tackling drills. In our open field talking drills, I flattened one of the linebackers and scored. I also had a good day on the board drill today, where I pancaked one of our strongest linebackers. The board drill really picks up the intensity for the rest of practice, so I like it. I really enjoy the drills that set the tempo for practice, because I refuse to lose them.
We scrimmaged after the twelve-minute practice. We had a decent day, but the defense definitely outplayed us. Nick Turner really had a good day on offense, but our defense did a great job swarming to the ball. I had two catches, but I only had about fifteen plays because the younger guys, on both sides of the ball, got most of the work today. The offense was outplayed, but that happens a lot on the first scrimmage. I still am demanding the ball, and I want to make more plays for our offense. We are still making small steps forward and continuing to improve. The offense had a mediocre day, but the defense had a good day.
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