Aug 162006
Authors: Brett Okamoto The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Incoming college freshmen have plenty to think about during their first fall semester, such as figuring out where classes are, working through roommate issues and memorizing slant patterns.

Actually the last of those is just one of many responsibilities this year’s freshmen class of Ram football players are facing.

“My schedule is always completely full,” said freshman receiver

Brett Willis. “When I do have a second I spend my time studying plays.”

While fans won’t get a chance to see players in action until the Sept. 2 match-up against Weber State, players have been on the practice field since the beginning of August.

For the team’s true freshmen, that meant moving into the residence halls in early August, nearly half a month before the rest of their class would make it to campus.

So while the rest of the freshmen enjoyed their last weeks of summer, student athletes faced challenges on the field, like Willis, who suffered his first injury during the first week of practice.

“For the first five practices I was just thinking, ‘Get in there and get your time,'” Willis said. “But then I broke my wrist so I’m sure I’ll redshirt this year.”

While all the players prepare for their first summer college workouts on their own, they admit nothing could have fully prepared them for constant demands of Division-I athletics.

“You’re thrown in there right away,” said H-back Nick Eaton. “You don’t think about all the summer lifting and training camp. Physically I’m really not that bad. (But) mentally, it’s been frustrating.”

New players also get a little star-struck when they first look across the field at Division-I athletes.

“The upperclassmen are like my older brothers,” Eaton said. “I’ve had season tickets since I was 8 years old. I’ve always been a Ram fan. It’s been great learning from Kory Sperry; he’s going to the NFL for sure.”

Even after more than two weeks of practice, the athletes’ love of the game is still evident.

“I just want to run out of that tunnel at the CU game at Invesco,” Willis said. “Every two days it hits me that I’m here. I watch ESPN and they talk about CSU football. Division-I football is national. I haven’t made it yet but I’ll get there.”

Collegian reporter Sean Star contributed to this story

Brett Okamoto can be reached at

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