With 154 negative COVID-19 tests under its belt and its first kickoff date set for Sept. 12, Boston College football can finally get cracking on what it’s been waiting for all summer: training camp.
After two months of summer workouts that consisted of lifting, conditioning, and little to no contact, according to head coach Jeff Hafley, the Eagles began what Hafley described as “real football drills” on Thursday. The start of training camp couldn’t have come soon enough, as the Eagles are just a little over a month out from their first faceoff of 2020, which will be against Ohio University in Alumni Stadium.
The ACC announced its 10-game conference slate during BC’s first practice on Thursday, and many of the players said they couldn’t be more excited to have a concrete goal to work toward.
“It was good for there to be some ink on what we were all expecting to be our season,” said fifth-year linebacker Max Richardson during a virtual press conference Thursday. “But I think what we’re all just trying to stay in focus on is working every day to get better.”
Hafley and all three players who participated in the press conference—Richardson, Hunter Long, and David Bailey—echoed a similar sentiment: This season is all about focusing on the controllable.
“Day by day, I try not to look at the things I can’t control because it is a very odd year, and things are constantly changing,” Richardson said. “But what I can control is when I get into Fish Field House every day, I can give it my all and love my team as much as anybody else.”
“It’s a day-by-day mindset,” Long said. “Obviously things are different, but you’ve got to be able to adapt at this level. I think we did one of the best jobs in the country at adapting.”
Hafley cited the Eagles’ commitment to each other as the reason why all 154 of the program’s most recent coronavirus tests came back negative, allowing the Eagles to start training camp as planned. Though many other teams have struggled with many positive cases upon their return to campus—for instance, roughly one third of Clemson football’s roster had tested positive by late June—BC football has only recorded one positive test since the athletes returned to campus in late June.
“I’m so appreciative and so thankful for what they’ve done and what they’ve sacrificed,” Hafley said about his team’s commitment to keeping each other healthy. “It says so much about them. And without the support from the doctors and the great protocol that we have, we wouldn’t be in this position right now.”
Leading up to training camp, Hafley noted that he and the staff have focused almost entirely on building his team’s strength and conditioning to make sure the players are healthy enough to play after a brief hiatus in the spring. Even so, the Eagles returned to contact practice on Thursday as seamlessly as if they’d been playing all summer, according to Hafley.
“This is the cleanest first day that we’ve had as an offense since I’ve been here,” Long said about the beginning of training camp on Thursday. “I’m excited to see it, and I think we’re really starting to pick up on what we’re trying to get done as an offense. It’ll be exciting to watch.”
Bailey, who is set to be the Eagles’ go-to running back this season, echoed Long’s feelings about the first day of camp. He noted that the players had lots of time over the summer to focus individually on the fundamentals of the game, which carried over to the first day of practice.
“You’ve just got to go day by day, because you don’t know what the next day is gonna bring,” Hafley said. “You’ve gotta go one step at a time, you’ve gotta keep everybody in the moment doing the best they can every single day. … And that’s what our guys have done.”
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics