By the time a football player is a junior in college, it’s expected that some parts of getting ready for a new season will be old hat and muscle memory will take over where unbridled enthusiasm once reigned supreme.
As the Anderson University Ravens and their new coaching staff led by new coach Bobby Ladner wrapped up Week 1 of training camp, the new voice and energy in camp has many on the team feeling like they’re playing youth football all over again.
“With this new coach, everyone thinks it’s like our first game ever,” junior safety Mitch Tuttle said. “I’ve never seen someone so excited for a first game before. We’re just chomping at the bit, we’re so ready to go.”
[Photo: AU head football coach Bobby Ladner works with his defense during practice.]
The familiar refrain from Ladner and his coaching staff that has captured the attention of the Ravens is just two words long: High intensity.
“High intensity is talking about our energy level,” Ladner explained. “It’s hot and we’ve got the pads on, and we have to have a high energy. We want to work hard and have the right attitude, and we want to be excited to be out here and to play the game. This game is fun.”
The effect on the team has been noticeable each time the phrase is bellowed out during practice.
“It’s amazing. It just spreads like wildfire. One person says it, everyone starts feeling it,” Tuttle said. “You got to feel it. Your blood gets going, you start hitting harder and everyone starts running harder. You come out here with high intensity, there’s no telling what you can do.”
A new catch phrase during practice wasn’t the only twist the new coaching staff brought to camp this season.
First the players stayed on campus for their first week of practice while Indianapolis Colts training camp took over AU. The previous two seasons, Anderson has made Highland Junior High School its training camp home.
The players checked into the Fair Commons dorm and practiced on the adjacent field on the corner of Fifth Street and Nursery Road while the Colts were in town.
And on move-in day, they had to check their car keys at the door.
“Camp is for camp. We need to take camp as serious as possible,” Ladner said. “We took up the car keys to make sure we had the right mindset and focus that we’re here to do a job. There will be time for them to get out and explore the town, but for now we need to concentrate on training camp.”
The 24/7 living conditions, without transportation, forced the team to come together and police one another.
“It brought us all a lot closer together. We were waking each other up for practice, we were on each other ‘it’s time to get on the grind, let’s go,’” junior right guard Austin Peoples said. “Teamwork and camaraderie has come a lot farther than in previous years. This new coaching staff has us a lot more unified as a team.”
Another new change for the Ravens this season has to do with their gameday fashion.
The Ravens will have white helmets this season with the school’s curved “AU” logo decal adorning the sides.
“I think the guys like it,” Ladner said. “It will be pretty cool.”
— Quintin Harlan is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo: John P. Cleary / The Herald Bulletin
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.