The right impression

New Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham is putting his mark on the program early on. Gone is the long hair. Gone is the facial hair. And gone is any activity or thought that doesn't put the team first.

"We are getting more discipline, and we need that after the year we had last year," senior linebacker Evan Benjamin told "We're not used to it yet, and Coach Willingham is bringing a ‘Team First' attitude. He's trying to get us to be more together and to do more things as a group. I think that's important."

Benjamin will be one of the leaders from his linebacker position, along with fellow senior Joe Lobendahn. He hopes to get off on the right foot. "You have to make sure that you are giving the right impression with a new coach," he said of new defensive coordinator Kent Baer. "You have to make sure you get to those meetings 15 minutes early, to get into your work out gear early, and to make sure you make all of your classes and be on time. That discipline is the only way to go, though.

"I think away from the field discipline is the big message Coach Willingham is sending. Football can be a life lesson if you approach it that way."

Benjamin put in long hours over the winter and hopes that it will lead to a strong spring showing. "I thought that I had a really good off-season," he said. "Coach (Chris) Tormey and I went over film to see where I could improve, and I went over a lot of Notre Dame film so I could get used to Coach Baer's system. For me it will be a little bit easier because of that. I'm used to playing next to Joe (Lobendahn) and Scott (White) now, so I think we'll really pick it up fast.'

Lobendahn looks very different with his newly cropped hair. Benjamin laughs. "When he first walked in after his cut, I asked everyone, "Hey! Who's the short guy with the huge neck?" He looks really good though," Evan said. "It's going to show everyone that discipline, Joe putting the team first. Wait ‘til you see Mike Mapu (Mapuolesega). His hair was about a foot and a half long, and now it's all gone. We're looking good now, all clean shaven and we look like a team now." Benjamin shaved his goatee to make sure that he sets the proper example.

Now Spring football has finally begun. "I'm ready for it," said Benjamin. "I'm ready to show these new coaches what I can do and I think they are excited to see what I can do."

His good friend Ty Eriks has moved back to offense - fullback to be exact. Benjamin believes it will be a good move for both team and player. "I'm excited for Ty's move," said Benjamin. "He's really pumped about it. I'm ready for a big collision with him during practice. We've been talking about that. It's going to be fun when he comes through the hole and I'm closing it." Top Stories