COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A two-hour practice in the morning, and in the afternoon a meeting in the heat. That, in a nutshell, is what the Tennessee Tech football team went through Tuesday, on its second day on the field in Tucker Stadium during fall camp.
The team spent time on the field early in the morning in practice wearing shorts and helmets, getting through its session before the heat sothered Cookeville. Late in the afternoon, while the temperatures slacked off somewhat, coach Watson Brown took his team through an hour walk-through on Overall Field -- a session he referred to as a meeting outside in the heat.
"We had a good practice this morning," Brown said. "We've got so many starters and returnees back that we really know a lot about this team. It was good for us to start in with our freshmen and see where they might fit it, whether they're in the right positions, and learn where we might need help more this year. I think that's what we reayll try to do during our practices on the first two days."
The team was on the field late in the day wearing shorts and t-shirts, without helmets, walking through plays and seeing the Golden Eagle system that is going to produce "the fastest 60 minutes in football" during the 2011 campaign.
"This afternoon was a walk-through rather than a practice, but it's a very important hour," Brown said. "It's getting adjustments, it's getting lined up properly, learning how to play certain plays, and gap control, and blocking systems. It think it's a very important day, but you can't have a football out here, you can't wear a helmet. It's more of a meeting outside in the heat."
The team will be on the field again both Wednesday and Thursday mornings for 8 a.m. practices, this time adding shoulder pads. The team's first practice in full gear is Friday.
One area that Brown and his staff feel will stand out as a strength on the 2011 squad is the defensive secondary.
"I think we're good in the defensive secondary. Our first line will be as good as any in this league," Brown said. "Corey Watson has been moved up to bandit, kind of a nickel position, and he looks very good. We're mature, we're solid, we've got very good players. The move of Will Johnson back to rover from linebacker has helped us.
"Now we've got to develop backups at some spots, but I think our starting secondary will be as good as any in this league. There will be some young guys in some backups, though, and that's going to be interesting to watch throughout camp. We're really looking for some corners as second and third string corners, and those will come out of our freshman class. Jamel Cook has looked real good so far."
Cook (pictured) is a freshman defensive back who was a decorated player during his career at Birmingham's Spain Park High School, including selection to the Birmingham News All-State team. A business major, he was named to the Pat Patrick Best in Football Team, and was chosen Best Overall Defensive Back at the Arian Pro Football Camp. Voted the team's Most Valuable Defensive Back as a senior, he had 82 total tackles, blocked two punts and blocked two field goals. He also broke up 18 pass attempts.
Season tickets to watch the Golden Eagles during their five home games in Tucker Stadium are on sale now at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be ordered online at TTUsports.com.
Tech opens the 2011 season at the University of Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 3. The first home game is Thursday night, Sept. 8, against Maryville College.