Toledo's Cody Thompson celebrates his touchdown against Maine at the Glass Bowl last season. For the receiver, being a senior "makes everything a little more surreal and a little more special.” BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
The University of Toledo football team will be back on the practice field Monday to open its fall camp, marking the official beginning to the 2017 season, one filled with a great deal of potential.
For many of the seniors, today is the beginning of one final go-around in a Rockets uniform.
“I’m definitely excited to get back to camp and get things rolling again,” senior wide receiver Cody Thompson said. “It’s a lot of lasts coming up. It’s my last first day of camp, it was my last conditioning test a couple weeks ago. It kind of makes everything a little more surreal and a little more special.”
After winter conditioning, spring football, and summer workouts, it is all systems go for the Rockets, who are the overwhelming favorite to win their first Mid-American Conference title since 2004.
“It felt like the winter went by so slow and the summer goes by so fast,” senior quarterback Logan Woodside said. “Now that fall camp is here, I’ve got five months here left at Toledo for the rest of my life. It’s kind of a hard pill to swallow, but I’m going to make the most of it for sure. It’s one last ride for me. Five years has gone so fast. I’m definitely not going to take anything for granted.”
For coaches, fall camp is a time to evaluate players and decide who will emerge at different positions. UT coach Jason Candle said there are plenty of position battles that will play out before the Aug. 31 opener against Elon.
Candle specifically pointed to the secondary, the defensive front, the offensive line, and tight end as positions that the staff will have a close eye on in camp.
“We’ve got to unify and kind of galvanize and become one,” Candle said. “We’ve done a good job in the offseason. [Strength and conditioning coach Brad Bichey] has done a great job with our guys of creating that sense of accountability and commitment to each other and our staff. We have to improve on things that in year one maybe we weren’t as good or as strong as how we hoped to be. We have to improve those and make sure in year two they are much better and the product looks much better.”
After an early spring practice this season, the Rockets are ready to get back on the field and back in full pads.
“I think we are ready,” Candle said. “We moved spring practice up this spring. We started on Valentine’s Day, so we started relatively early and were done relatively early, so it’s been a while since we’ve been on the field and had pads on and done what we need to do. They’ve done a great job through the winter conditioning and the summer workouts and we’re just kind of trying to build that team unity and that team chemistry. Now we’ll put it on the field and go to work and see what this looks like.”
University of Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside. "Five years has gone so fast. I’m definitely not going to take anything for granted.” BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH