I saw young and old. There were groups of teenage friends, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, a few former players, high school players, a good number of ITVer's and hundreds of others intently watching this year's Cardinals.
"It's exciting and I think our players really liked it, especially the new guys," head coach Bobby Petrino said afterwards. "They were walking around going 'wow, all these guys just for practice'. It's nice and that's why I like to keep it open for at least the first week to let everyone come out and watch us."
As the players and coaches made their way onto the practice fields, they were greeted by applause from the early arriving fans, which included a few groups that tailgated beforehand.
"I thought media day was just for the media," said freshman safety Darius Mann. "I didn't know so many fans would be here. It was unreal."
Practice will remain open to the public throughout the first week, including on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. FanFest will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 13th.
Good First Outing
The determination and focus displayed by the players during their voluntary summer workouts spilled over into fall camp.
"I thought it went pretty good," said Petrino of the first day out. "I thought our players came out with a lot of enthusiasm, hustle and fire."
Hazy, Hot & Humid
Freshman walk-on receiver
Josh McDonald cools off
It was a typical summer day in the River City on Saturday, as the heat index rose near 100 degrees.
Cornerback Bobby Buchanan suffered a few minutes with severe cramps. Buchanan downed some fluids and completely covered his legs in ice for a few moments and then returned to practice.
"This is tough, it's hot out here," Petrino explained. "We always take a break half way through. We had some guys cramping up and some guys fighting through it. I think the biggest thing is that you fight through it. I really think the rules they made of five days with only one practice are beneficial to all the players."
Fairdale High School product Maurice Grinter has joined fellow 2005 signee's Josh Byrom and JuJuan Spillman as a greyshirt. Like Byrom and Spillman, Grinter is expected to join the team in January and participate in spring practice.
In addition to junior college transfers Zach Anderson, Marcel Benson, Nate Harris, Marcus Gordon and Stevin Williams, U of L welcomed Corey Thompson (Duke) and Chris Vaughn (Notre Dame) to their first practice as a Cardinal.
Thompson pulls in a difficult catch on Saturday
Vaughn, a physical 6-foot-4, 220-pound receiver that saw limited action at Notre Dame as a freshman, was rated the top receiver prospect in the northeast as a high school senior by SuperPrep.com.
Both can practice with the team, but must sit out of a year of game participation due to NCAA transfer rules.
"Everyday that I go out to practice I am trying to get better, so I'm looking forward to learning this offense and helping the team win any way that I can," Vaughn said.
Rising junior Victor Anderson of St. X High School visited Louisville on Saturday, watching the Cardinals first practice of the season.
The All-State running back has already received verbal offers from Louisville and West Virginia. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last year as a sophomore, helping his team win the Kentucky Class 4A title.
Nothing more than a quick list of three mental notes from Saturday's practice.
1. The start of fall camp is obviously the top moment of Saturday. The atmosphere, with hundreds of fans on hand, was electric. Bobby Petrino's trademark up-tempo practice style was back, as players ran from one drill to the next.
2. Earl Heyman. He looks ready to play...today! He's big, physical, quick and humble.
"It's the best feeling," said Heyman of being a Cardinal. "Being from Louisville, it really means a lot. It's an honor to wear this uniform."
3. Amobi Okoye. As is normal, there has been some disussion about how well many of the players have trained during the off-season. Be sure to include junior defensive tackle Amobi Okoye in the discussion.