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Countdown to Kickoff: Recapping the First Day

August 3, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Countdown to Kickoff: Recapping the First Day

2007 Countdown to Kickoff Central

The opening day of the Liberty Flames' 2007 training camp came early for all players, both rookies and veterans, Friday morning with a split squad on the turf at Williams Stadium and inside the Williams Football Operations Center.

The veterans took to the field at 7 a.m. for the summer's final conditioning test. The returnees ran the 300-yard shuttle drill during the workout, passing the drill on a different time scale for each position.

Under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Bill Gillespie, the Flames set a plethora of weight room records over the summer in cleans, bench presses and squats. During last night's opening team meeting, Gillespie read through the numerous accomplishments, resulting in several rounds of celebration and even surprise for some of the unknowing new record holders.

While the veterans were testing their abilities on the field, the newcomers spent the 7 a.m. hour in the equipment room. The rookies completed their equipment fitting, including taking measurements for shoulder pads and helmets.

During the remainder of the morning, the full squad spent several hours breaking down the playbook in special teams, offensive and defensive meetings.

After a lunch break and time in the training room for taping, the squad took to the field for the first time this August, starting at 2:15 p.m.

Eighty-five players participated in the practice, which emphasized fundamental, individual and technique work. The two-and-a-half- hour practice was designed to allow position coaches to provide instruction to incoming freshmen about how to play their position, safety issues and how the Flames practice.

"Anytime you take that jump from high school to major college football, it is a significant jump," commented Liberty head coach Danny Rocco on the first day. "So, you have to build more time into your practice for your coaches to teach.

"Our kids were focused today. We have for the most part, a well-conditioned football team, a big, physical football team and a talented team. We are healthy and practiced at a pretty good tempo today. Overall, I was pleased with the learning curve."

The Flames return to Williams Stadium tomorrow evening at 6:45 p.m. for a two-plus hour practice, followed by 2:20 p.m. practice sessions on Sunday and Monday. LibertyFlames.com's practice coverage will return on Tuesday, when Liberty has its first practice in full pads.

However, LibertyFlames.com's Countdown to Kickoff coverage will return tomorrow with its first scheduled sit-down interview with each of the Flames' assistant coaches, beginning with running backs coach Frank Hickson.

With the sun rising over the rolling hills of Lynchburg, Liberty's returning players  took to the field at 7 a.m. for their final conditioning test.

While the veterans tested on the turf at Williams Stadium, the rookies were fitted for their equipment. Assistant equipment manager Chris Brown helps newcomer Noah Greenbaum get into his shoulder pads.

While Chris Brown worked with Noah Greenbaum, the rest of the rookies waited in line and got acquainted with head equipment manager Mike Morris.

The Flames find themselves drawing increased media attention this year and WSET-TV, Lynchburg's ABC affiliate, came out to talk with several players before practice, including team captain Eddie Pinigis.

The players gather just outside the locker room for one last huddle before taking to the field to begin practice at 2:15 p.m.

Passing game coordinator Brandon Streeter works out his quarterback group with several early practice drills.

When the players are not on the field, the athletic training staff has them resting in the shade under the old Flames Club tent, keeping the squad out of the 90-plus degree Lynchburg
temperatures as much as possible.


One of the Flames' early breakout sessions saw the return squad fielding kicks from the punters. Here Big South preseason all-conference return specialist Wynton Jackson fields the kick.