Even if it was just a limited availability for players in the weight room and outdoor practice fields Tuesday, Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher liked what he saw.
“I think for them to be getting back to normality and working in their own facilities… I think they’re eager to do it and wanting to do it,” Fisher said in video interviews provided by Texas A&M Athletics.
A&M athletes across the board returned Tuesday for voluntary conditioning and workouts as part of SEC guidelines. The school closed its athletic facilities Monday in observance of the memorial service in Houston for George Floyd.
While Fisher has been in contract with his players via Zoom calls, even the limited presence was welcome. A&M never had a chance to start spring practice after the COVID-19 shutdown of college athletics.
“Just to see the guys … you miss them,” Fisher said. “How much you care for them.”
Senior quarterback Kellen Mond saw the same anticipation even with the limitation on workouts and facilities.
“You can definitely feel the excitement throughout the players and pretty much through the whole building,” Mond said. “With what we can do right now, I know guys are excited to be back.”
With the lack of official workouts dating back to March, Mond said a key — even for a veteran team like A&M expected to contend in the SEC West — is defining itself quickly. The NCAA is looking at a six-week ramp-up to the regular season that could start in mid-July.
“I think the No. 1 thing is just finding our identity and figuring out what new guys and even experienced guys, find out their role and execute to the best of our ability this year,” Mond said. “We have a lot of talent and we got to figure out how to plug those puzzle pieces in.”
A&M’s administration began planning for the return to campus around May 1, athletic director Ross Bjork said. He confirmed this weekend to The Dallas Morning News that “less than five” athletes have tested positive for COVID-19.
“It seems a long time ago that we shut down,” Bjork said. “Now here we are where we can welcome back our student athletes, get them in for voluntary workouts, put them in a safe environment. We always believed they were safer here and that we could really protect them to the best of our ability.
“Seeing our student-athletes, seeing that gleam in their eye, they’re here to compete and that’s a step in the process.”
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