The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions football players reported Wednesday for check in. UAPB Head Coach Monte Coleman and his staff referenced earlier in the spring that they expected their numbers to double in the fall. Thursday, the Golden Lions took the field for the first official practice, and Coleman was content with the turnout.
"Actually, we're OK with numbers," Coleman said. "We're allowed 95, and we've got 90 right now. There may be a couple of more guys we pick up, but I'm happy with the numbers as of now. We have a good mixture of incoming high school, JUCO and returning players."
The Golden Lions are embracing the fresh start heading into the new season. According to Coleman, the players and coaches have carried the positive energy over from the spring.
"The main thing that I took from the practice is the good attitude displayed by our guys," Coleman said. "I know it's the first day, but we're moving in the right direction. The work ethic was there today just like it was in the spring."
Practice one consisted mostly of conditioning, positional drills and a little 7-on-7 action. The Golden Lions aren't practicing in full pads this week.
"We just did 7-on-7 today (that) was the first acclamation period of five," Coleman said. "Next week we'll be in full pads, and that's when we'll really see who can play football and who can’t."
During the acclamation periods, Coleman and his staff plan to push the best out of their guys.
"Most of the guys came back in good shape," Coleman said. "Now we have to whip them into football shape."
In the off season, there was movement within the Golden Lions coaching staff, with the latest coming right before camp. Former UAPB standout linebacker Bill Ross has been named the linebacker coach. Ross was a member of the 2012 SWAC championship team, and since then he had been coaching high school football.
Coleman has relayed the message to his staff on what this first week is all about, and so far he's seen them respond.
"I thought the interaction between the players and coaches was well," Coleman said. "My whole thing is that we have to teach these first few days. We're going back to basics, and we've done a good job of teaching. We've added Ross, and he's now my linebacker coach … we're getting a lot out of him."
With the rule change made by the NCAA banning two-a-day practices, the Golden Lions will get after it every day for the remainder of camp.
"We're going every day," Coleman said. "The NCAA changed the format of practice, can't have two-a-days, so we'll go every day. Sometimes what we do will change, but we'll practice every day up into the first game."
Right now there isn't a spot on the depth chart guaranteed, and there won't be before the first scrimmage that is scheduled for Aug. 12. At this point, with everybody healthy Coleman, just wants to see them compete.
"Everybody is healthy right now, knock on wood," Coleman said. "There's a lot of competition left in camp, and guys will have to earn their positions."