Nashville, Tenn. - The time has come to put on the pads and strap on the helmet. The Tennessee State University Tigers football team opens fall camp on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers report to camp Sunday and officially start practice Monday morning at 9:15 a.m. Practice is open to the public during the first two weeks of camp. All practices are expected to take place at Hale Stadium or the practice fields unless there is inclement weather. In that circumstance, practice will move to the indoor facility.
"There have been a lot of sleepless nights the past few days," said third year head coach Rod Reed. "It's not so much worrying, but just the excitement."
Reed expects his team to be ready to go as the first official practices takes place on Monday morning.
"Guys have been working out this summer with Coach (Alvin) Futrell to get stronger and faster," Reed said. "The (players) are chomping at the bit to get started. As a coaching staff, we want to see how they progressed from the spring."
Last season, the Tigers posted a 5-6 overall record and a 4-4 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play. TSU claimed the Sgt. York Trophy, which goes to the Tennessee OVC team with the best head-to-head record against their opponents.
Last month, the Tigers were predicted to finish fifth in the OVC behind Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Murray State and Tennessee Tech.
Guard Kadeem Edwards, lineman Antonio Harper and return specialist Weldon Garlington were tabbed with preseason All-OVC accolades.
This season, the Tigers return most of its' offensive weapons from a year ago, including OVC Freshman of the Year Michael German. Last season, German threw 144 completions for 1,899 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He will be complimented by tailback Trabis Ward (193 carries for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns) and wide out Devin Wilson (48 catches for 586 yards and two touchdowns). Guarding the front lines will be three All-OVC linemen in Edwards, Sherman Carter and Rogers Gaines.
"We are still extremely young," noted Reed. "We've got a good corps of offensive linemen. We've got to be more consistent on offense this year. We had games were we put up a lot of points and games where we didn't put up a lot. We are working on consistency all around."
The Big Blue defense is missing three main cogs from last season. OVC Defensive Player of the Year and All-American Rico Council has graduated along with All-OVC performers in Donte'e Nicholls and Joseph Wylie.
Underclassmen Daniel Fitzpatrick and Antonio Harper return as major cogs to the Tigers defense. The duo combined for 113 tackles and 13.5 tackles-for-loss last year.
Defensive backs Steven Godbolt and Wilson Robinson return as starters after collecting 78 combined stops with three interceptions.
"We've got some issues on the defensive front. We've fortified the secondary with additions of Christopher Robinson and Ronnie Vinson," said Reed. "As a coaching staff, we're excited about the experience we are bringing back."
TSU returns two strong performers on special teams. Placekicker Jamin Godfrey set the school record last year with 16 field goals. The Englewood native ranked eighth nationally with 1.45 kicks per game.
Also returning is sophomore return Weldon Garlington. Last year, Garlington returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns. The Brentwood Academy product was named to the CFPA Punt Specialist watch list earlier this summer.
Tennessee State opens the 2012 season with the 14th Annual John Merritt Classic on Sept. 1. The Big Blue hosts rival Florida A&M in a 6pm contest.
2012 TSU FOOTBALL CAMP SCHEDULE
Monday, Aug. 6 - First Practice (helmets only) - 9:15-11:30am
Tuesday, Aug. 7 - Practice (helmets only) - 9:15-11:30am
Wednesday, Aug. 8 - Practice (shells) - 9:15-11:30am
Thursday, Aug. 9 - Practice (shells) - 9:15-11:30am
Friday, Aug. 10 - Practice (shells) - 9:15-11:30am
Saturday, Aug. 11 - Scrimmage - 7:30-9:30am/Special Teams 5:45-7:45pm
-- TSU TIGERS --