Spring practice, it means very different things to a number of different people.
To fans, it’s a teaser that acts as a buffer between signing day and the draft. To coaches it is a chance to evaluate the team, its future, and, especially, its parts. Players must be assessed, appraised, and plugged into niches where they can help the team.
Spring football means a variety of things to a variety of players as well. For established returning players like Kellen Winslow, Jonathan Vilma, or Roscoe Parrish, it’s a chance to polish up their skills and establish themselves as leaders of the team.
For players coming off surgeries, such as Maurice Sikes and Kyle Cobia, it’s a time to learn by watching others, and a time to rehabilitate wounded parts.
However, for the majority of other players, myself included, it is an opportunity to assert themselves as new blood, new personalities, and new starters.
Springtime, for the most part, is the most laid back and relaxing time of a college football player’s life. For a change, we enjoy many of the luxuries that normal students enjoy. Things like being able to take class later in the afternoon or at night, catching that early 5 P.M. episode of The Simpsons, and that precious commodity that seems foreign to any college athlete…spare time. .
However, once that first day of spring practice opens, all that leisure time disappears faster than Roscoe pulling away from a FAMU defensive back, at least for those fifteen days.
All at once I start attaching post-its to my daily planner for lack of room. In fact, I’ll run you through my routine day.
6 a.m.: Wake up to the sound of my cell phone alarm.
6:04: Really wake up and get out of bed when alarm number two goes sounds off.
6:30: Arrive on campus and start to change into my weight room attire. Everyone wears matching shirt and shorts.
7:00: Start the hour-long workout that might be as easy as a stretch, or as rigorous as a decathlon.
8:15 While most of the world is leaving for work, I walk into the showers to wash off the early morning sweat I just worked up. The showers will come up again later in the schedule, I promise.
9:00: Head on over to the cafeteria and grab some breakfast and a morning paper.
10:00: Sociology 271, Intro to Criminal Justice. As a journalism and criminology dual major, this class is required.
10:50: Class is finally over. This concludes my class schedule for the day, but another class awaits at night, after practice.
11:30: Lunch. Usually a taco, burger, sub or some variation thereof.
12:15: Back to the athletic center. At this point of the day I enjoy a small, constrained amount of free time.
2:00: Pre-practice meetings. These usually include some film from the previous practice and/or previous season, and coaching points for the day’s practice.
3:20: Pre-practice, in which different individual positions go over light drills with their coaches.
3:30: The “real” practice begins with light warm-ups and stretches.
4:41: At this point practice is a little more than halfway over and I’ve been bashing my head into a 340 pound shaved grizzly bear named Vince Wilfork for over an hour.
5:30: Practice is over, give or take a few minutes.
5:40: Several reporters intercept me on my way back to the locker room by about six who want to know whether I’ll be as good a sound bite as Brett Romberg.
6:04: I get to the showers and realize that even though our shower has about fifteen shower heads, only about seven work. Now, we have 85 players on scholarship; add walk-ons and that brings the count to a little over 100. Granted, some guys don’t shower, but the math is not in my favor here.
6:18: I finally get a shower but the water’s freezing cold and the soap’s a little low, Oh well.
6:26: I make my way to my locker, already late for class, and try to dry up and get dressed quickly.
6:41: I walk into CNJ 461, News Ethics Seminar and get a few weird looks.
7:40: I awake from my otherwise serene nap to find all my classmates packing up and leaving the classroom.
8:20: I arrive home after a pit stop at Subway or KFC and feast.
8:45: Over fourteen hours after I left home for workout, I finally plop down on the couch and start figuring out exactly why CNN’s war analyst thinks that today’s toppling of a Sadaam Hussein statue signals the end of the regime.
8:47: Rather than me watching the war, the war starts watching me as I slouch over into a deep slumber.
11:02: I make my way back to my bed, set the alarms, and cuddle up to my pillows as I get ready to do it all over again.
Did I mention in all of this that I am a 20-year-old college student who is supposed to go out, hang out with friends, and have a social life? Fat chance, 6 a.m. comes awfully early and the Sugar Bowl isn’t far behind.
-Joel Rodriguez is a junior looking to take over Brett Romberg’s role as UM’s starting center. Rodriguez is also a journalism major.