The Northwestern State football team started setting a tone for preseason camp even before check-in officially began July 30.
Almost three dozen of the 100 players arriving Sunday streamed into the Stroud Room of the NSU Athletic Fieldhouse ahead of schedule, filling out paperwork with the football and sports medicine staffs, then queuing up to get their equipment fit and collect workout gear.
The first practice is Tuesday morning at 8, but the Demons were impatient to get going on Sunday.
“It shows how ready we are for the season,” said senior defensive end Dannie Harmon. “Having a bad taste in our mouths from last season, we’re ready to get that out. You see a lot of guys coming in with confidence. This is a fresh start and we’re ready to compete.”
For junior offensive lineman Frank Boudreaux, who started eight times last year, drawing on the experience in 2016 is a big positive for him and others pressed into action earlier than expected due to injuries.
“I got to play some last year, and for myself and the other guys who had the same opportunity last season, hopefully we can build on it this season,” he said.
More than half the squad in camp is comprised of newcomers, redshirts or players who didn’t see action last fall. Boudreaux recalled his early days as a Demon in 2014.
“Everyone was just bigger, faster, stronger, and I was just like a little lost puppy dog my first week here,” he said. “They’ll learn. Some of them will have to help us out this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
Harmon, who arrived with head coach Jay Thomas five seasons ago, enjoys watching the newcomers find their way in the early days of camp.
“It’s like seeing baby turtles crawl out into the sea,” he said, chuckling. “When those guys get on the field, it will be good to see them getting acquainted to the new system and how we run things.”
Newcomer and veteran alike, he said, share the same combination of excitement and nerves.
“It’s my fifth time, it still feels the same. I still get the same butterflies, just seeing the guys again,” he said. “I really can’t wait to get back out there, get after it, get ready for the season.”
Monday, the Demons will go through a series of meetings before starting their daily practice routine Tuesday morning. An additional newcomer is expected to report before drills begin.