NSU opens fall camp

Jared Porter | Tahlequah Daily Press

TAHLEQUAH (TNS) — Fourth-year NSU head coach Rob Robinson isn’t a stranger to the first day of fall camp, nor the excitement that comes with it each year. To him, it’s a day that never seems to lose its luster.

“No, it doesn’t [lose its luster], especially after two days of check-in and meetings, check-in and meetings and physicals,” Robinson said at the end of the RiverHawks’ first day of official practice Monday afternoon. “It’s just nice to get out here with the guys and get them flying around and get the energy back out here.”

Monday’s fall-camp opener was a bit unique to Robinson for a couple of reasons, however. It was his first time to experience the new preseason practice rules implemented by the NCAA that prohibit teams from two-a-days. Instead, teams are allowed one full-speed practice and one walk-through session each day.

“It is what it is,” Robinson said. “But to me, kids are bigger, faster, stronger now. Camp used to be about getting kids locked in a ready, but it’s 24-7, 365 now. So, these kids are more prepared and in shape [coming into fall camp]. That allows us to take advantage of more walk-throughs, which we’ve been doing since the spring anyway.”

The new NCAA rules also allowed teams to start fall camp a week earlier than years past. That, combined with the high volume of veterans and program players on NSU’s roster, resulted in a crisper-than-usual first day of official practice for the RiverHawks, according to Robinson.

“[There’s] just not as much time spent on assignment and alignment with your veterans,” Robinson said. “We ran a two-minute drill [Monday] morning without having to put it in. They knew it right away and we scored on it, so that was a big deal for our offense, just being able to step in and not having to do a lot of teaching of the little things.”

Of course, the RiverHawk offense benefits the most by having a returning quarterback like Dimonic McKinzy, who set the program’s single-season passing record a season ago with more than 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air.

• Confident signal caller: Starting QB Dimonic McKinzy has spent countless hours in the film room since the end of last year’s two-win campaign. And despite what his team’s final record may have suggested, he believes NSU took a sizable step in the right direction from a performance standpoint.