Aug. 4, 2008
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The 2008 UAB football season is officially underway as the Blazers held their first preseason practice under sunny skies at the UAB practice field.
The Blazers worked out for nearly three hours in shorts and helmets under a hot afternoon sun, as temperatures soared. When the team took the field at approximately 1:45 p.m. CT, it was 95 degrees with little wind.
UAB head coach Neil Callaway was pleased with his team's first practice and feels his team is far ahead of where the Blazers were at this time last season.
"I thought it was real good," Callaway said about his first practice of the 2008 camp. "We had great enthusiasm and I think we are just a million miles ahead from where we were last year. It was the same type of practice from what we had last year, except everyone knew what to do and it went a lot smoother."
One of the ways that Callaway could see the improvement was the conditioning of the team. Despite the high temperatures, the second-year head coach saw a drastic improvement.
"I think overall their conditioning was real good," Callaway said. "We had a couple of guys that had trouble with the heat. But no matter how hard you work in the summer, there is nothing like playing football when you are talking about the pace in which we practice and the reps that you get. Even though we are in good shape overall, we still had some guys that struggled."
UAB looks to improve on last year's 2-10 overall record and Callaway feels as if a big part of the improvement will lie in his veteran leadership. The Blazers return nine defensive starters and eight offensive starters from a year ago.
"Our upperclassmen have played a big role in taking a leadership role and that has certainly helped us prepare for fall camp," Callaway said. "This afternoon, I thought our upperclassmen stepped up. Will Dunbar and Joe Henderson did some good things on defense. Joe Webb and Frantrell Forest were impressive on offense."
"Rodell really stood out of all of our newcomers," Callaway said. "He made some real nice catches did some stuff out there that really has us excited."
The Blazers will return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon for another late afternoon practice. The team will be allowed to wear shoulder pads and helmets on Wednesday and Thursday, and will be allowed to go in full pads on Friday.
UAB will open the 2008 slate with a home game against Conference USA foe Tulsa on Saturday, Aug. 30. It marks the first time in program history that the Blazers have opened a season against a C-USA opponent. The Blazers and Golden Hurricane will kick off at 3 p.m. CT at Legion Field.