Now I’ve been here at the University of Nevada for a long time. This will be my 10th semester and this will be my 5th football season with the Wolf Pack. I grey-shirted my first year out of high school and then red-shirted the year after. I dressed for every game and traveled as a red-shirt because I was in the 2-deep and I was told that I would likely play the next season and should prepare myself for everything that will happen. So I feel like I’ve had about as long of an NCAA career as you could possibly have. I’ve dressed for over 40 games and started around 30 games. I still have a season left to play and just when I thought I couldn’t learn anything else about football at the University of Nevada it hit me today.
Fall camp, what’s its purpose exactly?
Most of us are here together for the summer taking part in summer conditioning. However even when fall camp starts there is probably 10-20 guys on my own football team that I either don’t remember their name or have never been introduce to them. So first and foremost I think one of the things is making sure that all 105 guys know who each other are one way or another. That’s a good start to having a successful season. Now this leads me to other questions, why all the conditioning? why all the hitting? Why do they push us as hard as they do?
Then I realized, that they do this to build a team. They have a way of putting us through as much adversity as possible, and we do everything together. We have no choice but to rely on each other in a lot of things that we do. Coach Ault has told us before that football is the greatest team sport in America. I believe it. It’s one of the only sports that I know where you have to fully rely on other people to take care of business. Being an offensive lineman, I can only focus on my 1/11th and trust that the men on either side of me are going to do their job, and that all the skill positions are going to take care of the football, find the right reads and block as well. How do we create that trust? That team work?
Practice, practice, practice.
When we condition in practice, we condition in groups, if anyone in your group fails. The whole group goes again. No one wants to condition in 100 degree heat, and it’s hard. But we find a way to get through it. We find a way to get through it together.You don’t want to be that guy that lets your group down. It creates a sense of accountability for the player, and a sense of respect from the other players if you know that you can count on someone to make their times. If someone continues to fail their conditioning test and we all have to pay for it continually, it creates peer pressure, which only brings out the best in people. They say the best kind of pressure is peer pressure. This is one of the ways that we create leadership, create cohesiveness and build trust with one another.
Another way we build leadership, and trust is through the way we practice. Our practices are always up-tempo and always physical. It’s what we’re known for. Doing this creates competition within our own team. You don’t want to be the guy pointed out on film as being soft, or allowing a sack, missing a tackle, fumbling, or giving up the big play. So what it does is it creates accountability for us. We work hard each and every play so that we are the guy on film making a big play, scoring a touchdown, making the tackle, etc.
Another thing that we do, is that we are literally together practically all day everyday. Whether it be meetings, film, weights, practice, or eating together. When we have time off in the middle of the day our locker room turns into something that would look similar to nap time at a daycare center. All of these grown men passed out on the floor in front of their lockers trying to get some sleep in before the next practice we have. We are practically forced into bonding with each other because we are going through these hard times together. We feel for each other. We know how terrible our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning, we know how hard it is to run through that line every time on a conditioning test. We know how sick we eventually get of the food that we eat each and everyday. But we do it all together.
For all of these reasons this is why fall camp is necessary for any football team. We need to build that trust, develop leaders, determine who our captains are going to be, and most importantly believe in one another. Believe that the person beside you will do their job, and that you don’t want to let that person down. You don’t want to be singled out as the guy that made the mistake that cost the team. Because in the end the team is the most important thing.