Corralling the Herd
HUNTINGTON -- In the parking lot of Joan C. Edwards Stadium Sunday morning, a new Marshall University football player was seen sorting through nearly all his belongings, which were overflowing out of a small sedan.
He was sweating, he was frustrated and he was tired.
Meanwhile, 100 feet away, veteran Billy Mitchell sauntered over to his vehicle following the morning meetings and calmly took off back to the house to get some rest in preparation for the beginning of fall practice, which officially opens at 9:45 a.m., Monday.
Mitchell is an upperclassmen, which means he can stay in off-campus housing.
Underclassmen are not as fortunate.
For two weeks the underclassmen move into the Twin Towers dormitory, which Billy Mitchell certainly remembers well.
Needless to say, Mitchell isn't exactly disappointed that he gets to go back to his own house each day after camp.
"It definitely helps and it's definitely a better mindset when you are sleeping in your own bed," Mitchell said. "You're there with stuff you are used to instead of moving into the dorms -- those cramped 5x5 rooms with two people in it."
Part of the learning process is figuring out you don't have to bring everything you own for the two weeks -- a lesson the unfortunate rookie in the parking lot will soon figure out.
After all, given the climate of the fall schedule, there isn't too much time spent in the dorm with two practices a day, meetings before each practice and workouts as well.
It essentially leaves time to eat, relax a bit and go to sleep before the next day's routine.
So, what do young players leave at home and what do they bring?
Some of the Thundering Herd's veterans chimed in on what's needed to help their younger counterparts get through camp.
For Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler, the answer was immediate.
"TV," Shuler said. "You got to have that TV in there."
For others, comfort was the bigger issue.
"A mattress pad," said offensive lineman Trevor Mendelson. "Those mattresses at Towers are terrible on you."
While most players were listing off items that made the camp experience easier, Mitchell came back with a different perspective.
"A good roommate always helps," Mitchell said. "I remember my freshman year, I had (former Herd tight end) Jamie Hatten and he was a good one. He always woke me up on time and gave me the rules about camp -- when was the best time to nap, when to head over to the field. It was definitely part of the survival."
Sunday had an ease and almost a fun feel to it as players got back together and joked outside of the Shewey Building.
One player was even seen riding his luggage cart like a scooter down the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue to break the monotony of "Moving Day."
However, there was also a serious tone to it.
There were early morning meetings where new players got together with athletic director Mike Hamrick. They also heard from head coach Doc Holliday who outlined his expectations to the entire group for the first time.
Then, there were also talks about character and actions -- especially pertaining to social media use, as delivered by the compliance and sports information personnel.
It all was part of a day when the team collectively turned the page from summertime to football time.
"Today is a big day," Mitchell said. "We all come back off of a big break and we're all refreshed and ready to go. We're just ready for camp to start. This is definitely the big turning point. This is like Ground One where we can erase what happened last year and focus on us as a team."
Marshall will take part in four split-squad practices Monday through Thursday with the morning session starting at 9:45 a.m. and the afternoon session beginning at 3:45 p.m. The team will all come together for its first full-squad practice at 2:30 p.m., Friday.
All sessions from Monday to Friday are open to the public.
On Saturday, the Herd will take part in its first scrimmage at approximately 10:45 a.m. The scrimmage is open to Big Green Scholarship Foundation members and 2013 season-ticket holders. Marshall students get in with a valid ID.