Most college students spend the final weeks before school enjoying their last moments of relaxation before the stress of classes begins.
But the CSU football team has been hitting the practice fields every morning in preparation for its Sept. 3 season opener against the University of New Mexico.
â€œWeâ€™re all excited to be back out here,â€ star linebacker Mychal Sisson said. â€œWe missed it. Itâ€™s been a long off-season. Everything right now is going real good, weâ€™re starting out with a good pace.â€
The Rams are eager to get the season started and wash away the memories of back-to-back 3-9 seasons.
Team leaders like Sisson and quarterback Pete Thomas tried to ensure a good start to fall camp by organizing voluntary workouts during the summer. And head coach Steve Fairchild believes that work has paid off.
â€œIt looks like weâ€™re in better shape (than in previous years),â€ Fairchild said. â€œYou can also tell from an experience factor weâ€™re probably farther along than weâ€™ve ever been at this point.â€
There were more attendees at the summer workouts than in any of the previous of Fairchildâ€™s four years at the helm.
â€œIt was real important for us this summer to get as many guys out here as we could because that could help lead to a successful season,â€ Thomas said. â€œEvery other team in the country was doing the same thing we were doing, so we had to keep up with them and try to outwork them.â€
The early portion of camp has seen high-tempo, efficient practices. Fairchild said he is happy with the comfort level his team has, something he attributed to having many returning starters.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams have a returning starting quarterback for the first time in Fairchildâ€™s reign in Thomas. Four starters on the offensive line are in the same spots as a year ago. CSU also has three running backs with experience fighting for the starting job.
On the defensive side of the ball the Rams lose all-conference performer Guy Miller and star linebacker Ricky Brewer to graduation. The defense will be anchored by Sisson and cornerback Elijah-Blu Smith.
Fairchild has said increased depth throughout the squad will mean that every position will see a fierce battle through fall camp to earn playing time.
The Rams hope this positive start to fall camp will help propel them to a bowl for the first time since an appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in 2008.
â€œIâ€™m highly confident,â€ Sisson said. â€œOur schedule is allowing us to be great and hopefully we can take advantage of our schedule. I feel very confident in everything thatâ€™s going on right now that we can come out and get back to a bowl game.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.