Before the season has started, before two-a-days have started, it is easy to see the impact of new SMU head football coach June Jones and his coaching staff.
There is a clear difference in the attitude of the players and their goals, both personally and for the team for this upcoming season. This was confirmed when PonyStampede.com was able to catch up with SMU defensive back Chris Castro on Thursday morning.
"The best thing about Coach Jones and the rest of the coaches is that they are really good people before they are really good coaches. You can talk to them about anything. He also comes in with so many accolades, which is very exciting for us as a team."
Even though Castro firmly believes in what June Jones is selling, he was a little worried about a change in the coaching staff.
"Anytime there is change, it's always going to be a little nerve-racking, but I could tell from the first day Coach showed up that it was going to be a good fit."
Many people couldn't handle all of the change this redshirt freshman from Allen, TX had to go through. Including high school, this will be his third coaching staff in as many years, but it doesn't seem to bother him too much.
"The Allen coaches really had me prepared to play at the next level, so it was a fairly easy transition. They taught me to stay focused and do my thing, but most importantly, to have self-discipline."
This was especially important during last season, when the Mustangs went 1-11, and Castro had to watch from the bench while being redshirted. In the most calamitous of times is when character is built, and the 2007 season was a big character building experience for Chris Castro.
"It was very frustrating having to be redshirted last season. It was the first time since 4th grade I had to sit on the bench in football. I'm glad it's out of the way, but it definitely taught me to be more disciplined and to work harder."
This translated to a very successful spring for Castro. He played more than he had expected and said the defense was a more cohesive unit than the year before. As for this season, Castro is looking to make an impact in any way he can.
"I think my best attribute is that I work hard. I think it helps the team more when you have players working their asses off, and someone next to you in sprints sees that, it inspires them to work harder. A competitive spirit is very helpful in practice."
Can Chris Castro's practice ethics translate to crooked-numbers in the win column? He hopes so.
"I could say I want to make a bowl game and everything like that, but that's not how we need to approach the season. We need to take it one week at a time, one opponent at a time. If we do that, I think there could be something special about this season."