ACU football welcomes 31 freshmen and five transfers to its roster for the upcoming 2015 season.
The Wildcats saw many defensive players graduate, after its second season in the Southland Conference, giving opportunities to new big guys such as freshman safety, Junior Henderson, from Katy, TX, defensive lineman Frank Kee, junior transfer from Texas Christian University and freshman safety Bolu Onifade, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Two of the transfers both come from well-known football schools, Kee from TCU and true freshman Hanner Shipley, who originally signed with LSU. Shipley played at Marble Falls High School, but was born in Abilene.
While the returning players boast a strong offense including sophomore running backs De’Andre Brown and senior Herschel Sims, as well as seniors wide receivers Cedric Gilbert, Cade Stone and Jace Hudson, there are several freshmen ready to learn and step up down the road.
“The biggest transition is the speed and the size; the guys are a lot bigger but it’s a lot of fun getting to learn from the older guys and they’re teaching us young guys stuff so we can adapt,” freshman linebacker Mitchell Cantwell said.
Several freshmen acknowledged the challenges and differences at fall camp from high school football.
“It’s definitely a lot harder than high school ball,” said Kleffner. “High school ball is more laid back, whereas college ball is constant wear and tear on your body. You just have to keep recovering, and we’re constantly eating.”
The team had a retreat late in fall camp, something the young men found beneficial for the immediate football season and life down the road.
“We did a lot of stuff like manhood building and showed us how to be a good man and work through things, which I thought was pretty good,” freshman tight end Hunter Griffith said. “We had good speakers out there so I’m thankful for that.”
Head coach Ken Collums understands the challenges new players face, and the coaching staff and more experienced players provide support for them both on and off the field.
“They’re always going to make mistakes out here-there’s a whole lot that can happen when 22 guys are out on the field at the same time, but just make a new mistake,” said Collums, “They’re young and playing hard and the big thing that we look for in recruiting is what kind of heart do they have?”
Several freshmen and both transfers mentioned will travel with the team when it opens its season Thursday night, Sept. 3rd, against Fresno State in Fresno, California.