*Editor’s Note: 6:45 p.m. May 3 – This story has been edited throughout.
With the chorus of Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” booming through the speakers on the practice field, the SMU football players and coaches radiated energy at their first day of spring practice on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of excitement here right now,” said head coach Chad Morris. “These guys have worked really hard since we stepped off the field in November. There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation going into year three.”
Players could be seen laughing and dancing in between drills, staff passing the football around in the corner, and smiles on everyone’s faces, happy to be back on the field.
However, the players’ enthusiasm did not take away from the team’s focus. The minute the large blow horn went off, signaling the beginning of an exercise, it was strictly business.
“From year one to year two we took a big step,” said Morris. “Now we expect even bigger things coming into year three. This year will be about the quality of the investment that these young men and coaches put in.”
After winning only two games in year one, year two the Mustangs came out strong. Finishing up the season 5-7 with a huge win over No. 11 Houston, watching SMU football was like watching a different team.
“The amount that I’ve seen my teammates grow through this past season is remarkable,” said junior offensive lineman Evan Brown, a finance major..
To continue to grow as a team and individuals, the players are extremely invested in their training. The teams “first quarter” of training began in January and now spring practice marks the beginning of their “second quarter.”
“Coach Morris preaches to us about our 1,656, which is how many hours we put into a year to prepare ourselves for 12 Saturdays of game time,” said Brown. “We had a really good ‘first quarter’ of the program with all the weight training and conditioning for us to be ready for the ‘second’.”
This mindset and the 1,656 hours of work is what continues to make the program advance and recruit talented players, according to Coach Morris. He said that this is the most talent the team has had since he began coaching at SMU in 2015.
Between the depth of the team and with many seniors graduating, almost every position is wide open and in “competitive mode.”
“This is a great problem to have,” said Morris. “Competition is going to make everyone better and that’s how this football team is going to get better, when you can compete against each other on a daily basis and make yourself better.”