By BEN JOHNSON
After two days of handing out gear and getting players acclimated to college life, Northeastern State finally opened fall camp on Monday morning. The RiverHawks hit the field at Doc Wadley Stadium with 134 players in practice gear.
“Typical first day,” Northeastern State head coach Kenny Evans. “There’s some disorganization, and some guys not sure where to line up and not sure where to go. They’re learning new drills, new formations, so there’s just a lot of teaching going on right now.”
The RiverHawks’ first practice wrapped up after nearly two and a half hours. NSU will go by the same itinerary on Tuesday before shifting to practices on Wednesday.
There are plenty of veterans returning for the RiverHawks in 2013. Joel Rockmore at running back, Langston Jones at linebacker, Vernon Jones at cornerback.
But it was the incoming class of youngsters that caught Evans’ eye on the first day at Gable Field.
“A lot of freshmen signees came in and looked the part — there’s no doubt,” he said. “(Raquan) Dobbs at wide receiver looked good. All four of the running backs (Derrick Moore, Carson Smallwood, Chavez Wyatt, Jared Taylor) that we have in look good. The big offensive tackle (Adam) Williams and defensive tackle (Mark) Skotnicki, they all [look good]. Reuben Washington catches your eye at defensive tackle. All those guys really look the part, and of course, going in pads will be the tell for some of them.”
Despite a roster laced with players who have been around awhile, Evans didn’t rule out playing time for some freshmen.
“We expect some of those young guys to step up and help us this year,” Evans said.
McMillan moving positions
For former Tahlequah standout Mason McMillan, it was a change of scenery on his first day with NSU. Versus playing at running back — where he became Tahlequah’s all-time, single-season rushing leader — he was moved to safety for his first collegiate practice.
“We’re moving McMillan to safety, and that’s a lot of learning for him,” Evans said. “He’s got a chance, though, to do some things. It’s a position, luckily, that we have veterans at. He’ll be able to learn from some good players, and hopefully he’ll be one of them himself in the future.”
Clean bill of health
The best of news of the day for the RiverHawks occurred on the health front. There were no noticeable injuries, aside from defensive back Steven Hooper of Broken Arrow nursing a couple of cramps toward the end of practice.
In fact, the person in the most pain on the first day may have been Evans, who said he had a rib out of place and was going to get it fixed.
“My rib is hurting,” he said. “I’ve never gone through practice with a rib injury. I’m going to see a chiropractor, and hopefully Dr. (Breanna) Batey will get me fixed up, and I’ll be ready to go (on Tuesday).”