Cats Report for Football Camp
Aug. 5, 2003
TUCSON - University of Arizona football players reported to campus today for the start of fall training camp, which opens in earnest Wednesday with evening drills.
Rookies will participate in orientation programs for the next four mornings and the entire team will participate in night practices at UA's Rincon Vista facility. On Sunday, the team is permitted its first practice in full pads, to be held on the campus practice facility.
All training camp practices are open to the public. Season ticket orders are being taken at the McKale Center Ticket Office, currently open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the south end of McKale Center at East Enke Drive. Fan Appreciation Night will be held Saturday, Aug. 16, in Arizona Stadium.
The Cats brought in some 28 rookies on Tuesday, including 20 signed in the scholarship recruiting class last Feburary plus some new walk-ons. Returning veteran players boosted the number in camp to more than 100, plus a number of other team candidates will await opportunity to join the team at a later date. NCAA rules stipulate 105 players may participate in fall camp.
'I told the freshmen that they'll have to learn at their own pace and that the veterans know more than they know,' head coach John Mackovic told reporters as rookies reported in the morning. Current reporting-day guidelines require the entire team to report on one day, as opposed to bringing in newcomers three or four days ahead of time as was the case since the mid-1980s.
'We want the newcomers to get integrated with the whole team, and they willget integrated much quicker with the new check-in process,' he said. 'Check-in isreally exciting for all of us, especially the coaches.'
Mackovic said the learning curve for both players and coaches would be different under the new system. 'We have to teach at a pace that the best of the veterans can handle. We can't slow down,' he said. Nonetheless, rookies who respond quickly have an outstanding chance of making quicker impressions, he added.
'Three weeks from now we're taking on an opponent, not just practicing. We have to accelerate,' he said. The Cats open the season Aug. 30 in Tucson against regional rival Texas-El Paso.
The team will be run-tested prior to Wednesday's practice, with each player given a target time for the average of two 300-yard shuttle runs. In his first two years Mackovic had players run a mile.
Some expected newcomers did not report due to eligibility issues. Those included junior defensive tackle Vince Feula plus four February recruits - freshman running back Marcus Thomas, junior college tight ends Ray Gurley and Tommy Briggs, and junior college defensive back Ryan Patterson.
Mackovic said he has instructed several other returnees -- starting wide receiver Andrae Thurman, starting center Keoki Fraser and letterman halfback Beau Carr -- to take several additional days or more prior to reporting in order to finish some scholastic work. 'I expect them to get the work done. I do not expect anyone not to report.' All three players were in UA football offices and on campus Tuesday.
Senior wide receiver Juan Valentine, who missed most of spring ball with a leg injury, also is likely to be held back from the initial group of 105 until he clears medical tests, Mackovic said.
Senior halfback Clarence Farmer, who led the Pac-10 in rushing in 2001 but missed eight games with a knee injury last year, spoke with reporters after reporting to camp and evidently re-visited some of the tension reported between he and the head coach during the 2002 season. Farmer did not participate in spring drills.
When asked later if his relationship with Farmer would 'work,' Mackovic said, 'There's no reason it shouldn't,' and added that he did not care to speak further on the matter. He also elaborarated that he hoped Farmer would be at his 2001 performance level. 'We have a much better running game situation than we did in 2001, when all we had was Clarence. Now there are numerous players we can rotate in the backfield.'
Mackovic cited a trio of sophomores in that regard -- halfback Mike Bell and fullbacks Gilbert Harris and Sean Jones. 'We have other backs. Some people might overlook Gilbert Harris and Sean Jones,' he said. 'Bell is more physically stronger and strength equals confidence. Strength also equals speed.'
After Sunday's first practice in pads, UA will commence two-a-days, though such double sessions are limited to five or possible six days throughout camp.
Subject to ChangeRV = Rincon Vista, South Tucson Boulevard at East 15th StreetFB = UA football practice fields, southeast of McKale CenterWednesday, Aug. 6 Rookie Orientation 1-3:30 p.m.; Team Practice 6:55 p.m. (RV)Thursday, Aug. 7 Rookie Orientation; Team Practice 6:55 p.m. (RV)Friday, Aug. 8 Rookie Orientation; Team Practice 6:55 p.m. (RV)Saturday, Aug. 9 Rookie Orientation; Team Practice 6:55 p.m. (RV)Sunday, Aug. 10 Team Practice/Pads 4:30 p.m. (FB)Monday, Aug. 11 Practices 6:20 a.m., 7:05 p.m. (both RV)Tuesday, Aug. 12 Practice 4:30 p.m. (FB)Wednesday, Aug. 13 Practices 6:20 a.m., 7:05 p.m. (both RV)Thursday, Aug. 14 Practice 4:30 p.m. (FB)Friday, Aug. 15 Practices 7:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m. (both RV)Saturday, Aug. 16 Fan Appreciation Night/Practice, Arizona Stadium - 6 p.m.Sunday Aug. 17 Phoenix Supporters' Dinner, 5 p.m., Airport MarriottMonday, Aug. 18 Practices 7:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m. (both RV)Tuesday, Aug. 19 Kick-off Luncheon, 12 noon; Practice 4:30 p.m. (FB)Wednesday, Aug. 20 Practices 7:05 a.m., 7:05 p.m. (both RV)Thursday, Aug. 21 Practice 7:30 p.m. (Stadium)Friday, Aug. 22 Practice TBAMonday, Aug. 24 School startsSaturday, Aug. 30 2003 Opener - Texas-El Paso, 7 p.m.