LAKE CHARLES – The wait for the Frank Wilson era of McNeese Football to kickoff is finally over when on Friday, the Cowboys came together as a full team since last November with the first of eight days of walk-throughs allowed by the NCAA prior to fall camp beginning on August 7.
The stoppage of sports competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in mid-March, just days before McNeese was to open up spring practice. And although the team reported on July 13 for the first day of mandatory workouts, the squad was separated into many different pods to abide by the safety guidelines and social distancing.
Despite not having a spring session while workouts and conditioning during the quarantine being conducted mostly on their own until reporting, the Cowboys were ready to hit the field and back into a full team routine.
“We have a talented group,” said Wilson after the day’s walk-through. “We have a ton of potential that has yet to be tapped into. It was a typical first day in many ways but very proud of our team and their ‘want to’.”
McNeese will continue its walk-through pre-camp period on Monday afternoon. Neither pads nor helmets are allowed but footballs can be used.
“We still have to learn how to practice. We have to condition and build ourselves into being championship caliber. That’s our goal. Today was day one and a step in the right direction and hopefully, we can build on it come Monday,” said Wilson.
Several new faces were dressed out including defensive end Isaiah Chambers, a graduate transfer from the University of Houston; running back AJ Carter, a transfer from Arizona State and native of Many; defensive back and Tulane transfer Chris Joyce; Louisiana Tech wide receiver transfer Josh Matthews; and Kentucky quarterback transfer Walker Wood.
Joyce joins a defensive backfield that could be considered one of the best in the FCS with returning starters Darion Dunn, Andre Sam and Cory McCoy as well as three-year starter Colby Burton who is returning after missing most of the 2019 season due to an injury in the season opener. Also returning in the backfield are Gabe Foster and Colby Richardson, both with starting experience.
“I like our team, I like our talent, and I like the direction that our mindset is in,” said Wilson. “We just have to physically get the chemistry and those things going that we’re all on the same page.”