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Irish Start Spring Season

April 1, 2003

Following Monday’s opening spring practice, Tyrone Willingham admitted that the session was “predictably unpredictable for a first day.” The second-year head coach stressed enthusiasm and individual players’ desire to “impress most importantly themselves and their teammates and then their coaches.”

The first day of practice centered on fundamentals and individual development. Senior nose tackle Darrell Campbell reiterated that the depth chart has not yet been established.

“Everybody’s position is open,” Campbell said. “Anybody can take anybody’s spot.”

However, he noted that “this is the time where the senior leaders have to be the leaders.”

Campbell expressed enthusiasm upon returning to the gridiron for the first time since January and seeing the fruits of the offseason training and conditioning program.

“It is great to finally see the results of weight lifting. The guys are quicker and faster and everybody is in shape. Last year, when Coach Willingham first came in, the guys were kind of huffing and puffing the first day, but there was none of that today.”

The smile on Campbell’s face only reinforces the resolve in his voice.

“We’re all together making sure we don’t mess up. We worked on the fundamentals today – the little things, finishing, running, swarming to the ball.”

Willingham echoed Campbell’s focus on the importance of fundamentals.

“We’re about trying to be the best we can be and to establish the fundamentals,” Willingham said. “Everything that we did today started last year. Everything we did last year built toward this year. Today is again one of those steps forward so that we can be good today but also be good tomorrow.”

Willingham continues to have the calm, patient, yet determined vision which catapulted his squad to a 10-3 record in 2002. He desires not only a successful program, but success in developing individuals as well.

“Today’s individual focus was on fundamentals, but when we get into the pads, that’s when we need to come together as a team.”

The football team continues with their second session of spring practice Tuesday afternoon