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Rams bring hope to the first day of camp




FORT COLLINS, Colo. The first day comes with built-in excitement.

Coaches don’t have to yell for energy on the first day of fall camp because it’s there. It’s a release after a long off-season and two months of intense work in the weight room and practice fields with no one watching. What the Colorado state soccer team accomplished during that time was preparing for the main event.

The chance to play football again. They won’t put on pads until the fifth day, but who cares. It was real practice, with a soccer ball, organized and on purpose.

The first day also brings hope. The idea that things are getting better. The change in coaching staff and style immediately took care of that, with Jay Norvell‘s approach is a breath of fresh air and a transgression that sets the Rams back in the present century.

Norvell and his team are a spotless canvas 0-0 and anything feels possible right now.

“I’m hopeful for a great season. At the same time, I’m confident,” second-year safety Jack Howell said. “We came out of this and it was very different from springball. Everyone knew what they were doing so it was fast paced, guys clicked and we had a better bond. I’m really excited, really hopeful for the season.”

On Friday, the camp opened with the first wave of players in the first group on the practice field before 7 a.m., when the two fields they use were still shielded from the sun by Canvas Stadium. By the end of the second session, the facility was bathed in sunshine, four hours after the first period had begun.

As in the spring camp, Norvell and his staff will conduct two practices, pairing the first and third teams and the second and fourth teams. That way there are more reps to be had, especially for a team that is still learning to get a firm grip on new offensive and defensive systems, and the newcomers 59 in total on the roster can catch up faster.

This continues for the first three weeks, until school starts. The team trains for the first day off for six days in a row, finishing the run with the camp’s first scrimmage on a Wednesday.

The new feeling is part of the hope and a major factor in Norvell’s cheerful demeanor.

“I’m just excited to get started. We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I think we need to develop consistent practice, attention to detail in meetings and just the way we run our business. I think the kids are in great shape. I think Coach Jordan Simmons and his staff (strength and conditioning) did a great job. They’re excited and we’ve added some new kids that are fun to work with. It’s like Christmas when you get new toys.

“I told one of our quarterbacks, I said, you’ve got new toys here, let’s make sure we use them. You’re not one of those guys who gets up at Christmas, opens his presents and plays with the box, are you? Play with the new toys we have.”

Many of them called Norvell wideout Tory Horton the fastest toy under the tree was here in the spring, giving a taste of some of the change. Much of the coaching staff followed Norvell to the state of Colorado, as did a group of nine players, including Horton.

The group is one that is used to winning. Go to bowling. The idea and the hope is that they bring the attitude and the required approach.

“It’s just the mission we have. We’re very committed to the mission,” Horton said. “We know what we want, we know what we’re trying to achieve and achieve, so we’re mainly focused on taking those steps to succeed.

“I think it’s tattooed on us everywhere we go. We preach it so much. Everyone knows what to do here, we know the duties we have. We know what we’ll get when we go into the season, but we know we need to have a flat mind, stay focused and block out all the outside noise and focus on what we came here to do.”

Last week, former coach Sonny Lubick came to speak with Norvell and his staff, and Lubick was on the practice field Friday, along with his former defensive coordinator, Larry Kerr. Norvell sees it as a blessing to have someone with Lubick’s knowledge of the game around to do his bit, and as the players left the field, they all stopped to shake hands with the man whose name is on their playing field. .

For good reason. His teams won. Not only competitions, but also conference championships. Lubick’s teams have cracked the national rankings. They regularly went into the season with not only hope, but also confidence.

Howell, the offspring of one of Lubick’s former players, said both feelings existed in him the first day, emphasizing why his unit will bear his weight.

“In defense we fly to the ball. We are a fast team and we like to get to the ball,” he said. “We love to intercept the ball and we make tackles. We are proud to be among the highest percentage of getting to the ball and making plays. We will make plays.”




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