JONESBORO-–One day after reporting for fall camp and conducting its annual Media Day activities, the Arkansas State football team took the Centennial Bank Stadium field Saturday morning in shorts and helmets for its first practice leading up to its season opener Sept. 2 at Nebraska.
Including four different radio stations conducting five combined live shows, the Red Wolves met with multiple print, online, television and radio media outlets while also taking part in various promotional photo, video and audio sessions Friday at the A-State Football Facility.
“I am excited about the guys we’re starting fall camp with,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson at a Media Day press conference. “Athletically, I think we have a lot of potential, but just also a lot of inexperience. So I think that is going to be the key for us as a coaching staff – to get some really good athletes ready in a short period of time for a very good opponent.”
The team conducted an orientation meeting at the Carl R. Reng Student Union later that afternoon, introducing themselves to athletics department and University administrators and support staff. Following a team dinner, the squad held team and positions meeting back at the south end zone facility.
A-State held its first team practice today since concluding its spring camp in late April. The Red Wolves return 47 lettermen, including nine starters from last year’s team that claimed the Sun Belt Conference championship and won the Cure Bowl, but also welcome over 40 newcomers taking part in their first fall camp at A-State.
“A lot of new guys, so we were a little slow transitioning from one group to the next, but we stayed off the ground, ran around well and the energy was good,” Anderson said following the workout. “Just from looking at it without watching video, it was pretty good.
“I just want to see daily improvement – if you make a mistake today, I don’t want to see the same one tomorrow,” continued Anderson. “We should get cleaner and more polished in terms of knowing what we’re doing and where we’re going. We had a large group of guys going through their first practice with us. We have to be patient with them, but hopefully the veterans can pull them along quickly so they can get acclimated pretty fast.”
While Arkansas State has a lot of last year’s production still in place, including 2016 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and eight all-conference selections, it must replace some key components. The departures include all five starting offensive linemen, a first team All-Sun defensive end (Chris Odom) now in the NFL and three starters in its secondary.
However, Anderson and his staff addressed many of those needs in the offseason with its 2017 signing class. A-State has gained significant size up front on the offensive line and has reloaded in the secondary with several highly-regarded recruits.
A-State will begin its spring camp with five consecutive 8:50 a.m. practices through Wednesday, Aug. 2. Following a recovery day Aug. 3, the Red Wolves will resume their practice schedule the next day and hold their first fall-camp scrimmage Aug. 5.