Well, spring camp is finally upon us. As I have stated the past two years, Spring Camp is the mirage in the desert that is our eight-month off-season. After the harsh winter and the 12 weeks of morning runs, weights and running, it is the weekend that reminds us all why we have been working so hard and what we can look forward to in the fall.
While this will be my final spring camp as one of the players, and it is the beginning of the ‘lasts’ for me as I enter my fifth and final season, I will likely be speaking of the future of the team and things that make the transition comforting for me.
With that said, there are so many things to look forward to this season. This spring camp will be very exciting because of all of the young talent that has become a key part of this team. After a monster recruiting class last off-season, so many young players have become household names: Jeff Hassler (RB), Joel Seutter (DE), Cam Redl (RT), Luke Thiel (CB), Zack Hart (DE/DT), Mitch Friesen (HB) and Garrett Bolen (RB/SB).
When you think about the impact that these players had in the latter half of the season, the fact that they bring a year of experience to this year’s group and then the fact that we have brought in another stellar group of athletes, the potential for this team is great.
Things have definitely changed since my first spring camp in 2005. Among the most significant changes is the rule that capped eligibility to 25-year-olds. I remember entering the locker room as a 17-year-old boy in May 2005, taking the field, and warming up my arm for practice with Steve Bilan, the current 27 year old starting quarterback. It was a bit of a shock, but that first season working under a guy like Stevo, who had played the game at such a competitive level for 10 years, gave me a great role model to learn from.
Quite a few of the current starters on this team played two years of show-team patiently waiting and learning. Darren Hinds (C), Travis Gorski (WR), Tony Michalchuk (LB), Nnamdi Metu (HB) and I were all in the 2005 recruiting class and all paid our dues on the show-team. We were able to learn the systems, understand the game a bit better and learned to really appreciate the opportunity to wear a Huskie jersey on game day.
Looking back at my first two years on the team, I remember that it wasn’t easy battling on show team. I kept my head high and believed it was helping the team and was for the greater good. While playing show team, our team went to two Vanier Cup Championships. I remember talking with my center Darren Hinds and wide out Travis Gorski in residence during my first fall training camp. We all said, “imagine if a few years from now we are starters for this team and win a Vanier Cup together.” That opportunity is now here.
This recruiting class is about to take part in something so special. The few of us veteran fifth year players have one last chance to reach the top of the mountain and claim that national championship throne. While the average age in the locker room may have changed, the same hunger and expectations haven’t. Once you put on that Huskie jersey and step foot on that field you will sacrifice your body for the benefit of this team and together we will succeed.
Spring camp is upon us, and so it begins.
For locker room coverage of spring camp, the Dog’s Breakfast and the East-West Bowl, follow me on Twitter @laurencenixon or In the Pocket.