As construction on Wildcat Stadium continues and the field begins to take shape, the football team began its own building process with the first of 15 spring practices on Tuesday.
First-year head coach Adam Dorrel said he is excited to get together with the team and begin the process that he has been preparing for since he arrived in December.
“I told our guys and I’ve been telling them all offseason if you can’t look behind you [at the stadium], if that doesn’t motivate you I’m not sure you should be here right now,” Dorrel said. “It’s a big motivating factor to each of us everyday.”
Dorrel also said over these first 15 practices and throughout the spring he and his staff are focusing heavily on discipline.
“The thing that I’m trying to get our football team to understand is you don’t have to be the most talented team on a Saturday to win,” Dorrel said. “So the thing that I’m really looking for is discipline. Not making stupid penalties, not making stupid mistakes, not turning the football over and playing with great second effort.”
While the first few practices will take place at Wally Bullington Practice Facility, the team will soon move to Action Zone for most of the spring. For the final three practices, the Wildcats will use Shotwell Stadium, which will be the final farewell to the stadium as a practice and playing facility after 58 years. Those practices will take place April 3, 5 and 7, with April 7 being held as an open practice in place of the spring game.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey said among the spring workouts and new chapter of ACU football, there is a new feel and atmosphere.
“Oh I think it’s really exciting, there is a new energy around here, everyone is just fired up and ready to get out here and get things kicked off and get back at it,” Sealey said.
The new feel however, might also have something to do with all the new faces filling in this spring. Despite returning a number of starters from last year’s team, ACU will go through spring ball with just seven offensive lineman, 10 defensive lineman and eight cornerbacks. Two key players not included in that bunch are junior center Sam Denmark, who is recovering from minor shoulder surgery, and junior center Austin Hisler, who injured his foot during winter workouts. But even with the injuries and setbacks Dorrel said the team will still do a set number of 40 snaps a day in a team setting.
“Quite candidly there are going to be times where we pull the offensive and defensive line out to rest them, but we’ll still be in a 7-on-7 segment where our guys have to go through the snap count and check system,” Dorrel said.
In addition to the resting the lineman, the Wildcats will also welcome five offensive lineman, three defensive ends and four cornerbacks, which should help fill any depth chart holes at those positions.
Sealey said these spring practices will also be important to set the tone for the team and especially the incoming freshman recruits when they arrive.
“By the time the new recruits get here we’ll actually have a feel for the coaches and kind of lay down the law for them and tell them how it is and what they can expect,” Sealey said.
In regards to the new recruits coming in the fall, ACU could potentially have a few more than when they closed with 17 on National Signing Day.
Dorrel could not comment specifically on the ongoing recruiting process, which according to reports via Baylor247 Sports could include possible Baylor transfer Johnny Jefferson. Either way, Dorrel said the team is not done recruiting and probably won’t be for a while.
“We are not done recruiting right now, by any means,” Dorrel said. “All I can tell you right now is we are not done recruiting and we probably won’t be right up until a week before fall camp.”
As proof to that statement the Wildcats added former Midland Lee quarterback Sema’J Davis, when he signed a national letter of intent earlier this week.
ACU will open 2017 football season with two road games at New Mexico State and Colorado State before the big season and stadium home opener against Houston Baptist, Sept. 16