By ANDY WOLF
Rob Keys still remembers the excitement his five-year-old self had while attending football camp with his dad — then a high school football coach.
Ever since then, Keys has spent every August at one.
The feeling hasn’t changed a bit as the now sixth-year University of Findlay head coach guided the Oilers on the gridiron Monday for their first camp day at the Armstrong Sports Complex.
“The night before that first practice you have those butterflies, the anticipation,” Keys said, noting everyone else was juiced up. “You can’t wait to get out here. It’s the place where coaches and players love to be. They love the chance to get out here and work to get better as a team.”
The Oilers, coming off a 6-5 season, have just over three weeks until the season begins at rival Tiffin (Aug. 31).
Right now the first game doesn’t even exist to Keys.
For day one, goals are pretty simple: get better.
Today’s second day proposes the question “How can we improve?”
He was also looking to see how the upperclassmen helped the incoming freshmen get adjusted to their first collegiate practice.
“They’re confused,” Keys said of his freshmen. “There’s scheme going in and around their heads. It’s not easy when you’re a freshman coming in and there’s a lot of stuff thrown at you.
“I really like the way our upperclassmen took the freshmen under their wing and did a good job of coaching them up and relaxing them and bringing them into the fold as fast as possible.”
Lance Mitchell is one of about 45 true freshmen and several other transfers getting a fresh taste of what UF practice is like.
Mitchell, a running back from St. Clair Shores South Lake (Michigan), felt a mix of anticipation and nerves.
“It’s just something I’ve got to get adjusted to within due time,” Mitchell said.
Everything was expectedly different for him.
“The bigger differences is the play calling, the intensity,” Mitchell said. “Just the tempo of the whole practice — it’s just something I’ve got to get adjusted to.”
Mitchell spent the offseason working out at home in Michigan with a mix of speed training, track and lifting.
His short- and long-term camp goals are set upon becoming a better player.
“I feel like I’m going to have fun once I get the hang of it,” Mitchell said.
Junior defensive back Francis Cutchember said his feel for finally getting out on the field hasn’t change since his freshman year.
He worked his way onto the field early on and started the final three games of 2015 at safety as a true freshman.
Cutchember made more eight starts a year ago and returns as one of several seasoned pieces to a heavily-improved and now veteran defense.
His growth has allowed him to embraced a teaching/leading role for the Monday newbies.
“I want everyone to learn including myself,” Cutchember said. “Even though I want to be a leader for the team, I still don’t consider myself above the freshman because I’m still learning just how they are learning.”
Football: UF’s Monday goal: Get better
By ANDY WOLF