For the Louisiana Tech football team, this day has been a long time coming and anticipated with the same excitement as the above mentioned holidays – possibly more.
For two upperclassmen leaders on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in senior quarterback J'Mar Smith and junior cornerback Amik Robertson, the first day of fall camp brings some familiarity and excitement along with questions entering the month-long stretch of fall workouts and practices.
Robertson, who has spent each of the past two seasons in the conversation as one of the premier defensive backs in Conference USA says his mentality has stayed even-keeled even with a somewhat revamped defensive front and a new defensive coordinator in Bob Diaco.
"It's always a great feeling to be back out here," the preseason All-Conference selection remarked to the media. "We put in tons of work throughout the entire spring and summer, and it's great to come out here and knock some of the rust off on Day 1. Coach Diaco brings in a different scheme than (former) Coach (Blake) Baker, but since the spring we've had guys step up on this side of the ball and assert themselves. We're all bought in as a unit, and we're all ready to step up and contribute in any way we can."
On Friday morning, the Bulldogs hit the practice fields shortly after 8 a.m. for its first of two days in shorts before transitioning to shells on Sunday and Monday, leading up to its first full-padded practice next Monday morning.
Tech took part in various drills with its respective position coaches and walked through special teams scenarios in coverage and return situations.
As far as the offense is concerned, Tech returns its main quarterback core from last season, led by senior starter J'Mar Smith, who is expected to make his fourth consecutive opening-day start under center.
"As a senior I definitely don't take any of these days for granted, because they're special and are opportunities to learn and get better," said Smith. "I feel more comfortable with the offense than I have in any other offseason and Coach (Todd) Fitch and Coach Holtz have been great in going over all the little details with me, making sure I'm in the best position to lead this offense."
Head coach Skip Holtz echoed both Robertson's and Smith's sentiments about the opening day of camp.
"This is one of the parts of my job I love the most," said Holtz. "You get winter workouts and a little bit of spring ball, but this time of the year is why coaches get into coaching – the competitive side of it and putting together a complete football team in preparation for a new season. I loved the energy and work ethic I saw today. We're still very early on and have a lot of things to evaluate and incorporate, but we'll have a better idea of some of these new guys when we put it out there for our first scrimmage around practice eight or nine."
The Bulldogs play six home games this year, including the home opener on Sept. 7 against Grambling State. Tech is coming off its fifth consecutive bowl victory and is one of just 25 FBS programs with 7+ wins in each of the past five seasons (2014-18).
Season tickets and mini-plans for Bulldog football are still currently on sale and can be purchased by calling 318-257-3631 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. or by logging onto LATechSports.com/tickets.
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