The Rams practiced at Farrington Field on Wednesday morning to showcase their skills and run plays to prepare for the first football game since 1941, head coach Joe Prud’homme said.
The Rams will practice at Farrington Field this week and begin practicing at Polytechnic High School from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. next week, Prud’homme said during the Texas Wesleyan Football Media Day, which drew representatives from several area television stations, radio stations and publications.
“I like the schedule,” Prud’homme said. “ I don’t like that we’re not in the heat. I wish we were in the heat, that’s the only thing that bothers me.”
The return of football has done amazing things for Wesleyan, Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick Slabach said.
“The students are very excited about it and so that’s the best thing,” Slabach said. “There’s just another opportunity for great student life, but our alumni are also very excited about it. It’s a benefit both on campus and for our alumni off campus.”
The Rams kick off the season against McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas on Sept. 2. The Rams will play their first home game against Millsaps College on Sept. 9 at 2 p.m.. Their final regular season game is against Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma on Nov. 11.
Slabach is optimistic about the Rams’ first season since 1941. He wants the athletes to be competitive on the field and focused in the classroom.
“This year I think we’re going to win some games,” Slabach said. “I just hope that we’re more focused on just being competitive on this first round out and less worried about exactly how many games.”
The athletes getting an education is the number one priority for the coaches at Wesleyan, Slabach said.
“If you’re talking about Wesleyan football, I want you to feel a sense of pride,” Prud’homme said.
The main focus for this season is to be competitive and improve as a team, he said. “[I hope] we’re in every game, and we have a fighting shot in the fourth quarter, and we have an opportunity to close the deal.”
The goal for the next five years is for the program to be a tough competitor in the Central States Football League, Prud’homme said.
“I think we’ll be in the conference championship conversation every year after five years,” Prud’homme said. “I do believe that we’ll be in the playoffs conversation every year… I believe we’ll be on the map.”
The Rams will put pads on Thursday and this will give the coaches and the team a glimpse at what the season will look like, Prud’homme said.
“Football is hard to watch when you can’t hear it … Basketball coaches love the thump-thump in the gym I love the crack-crack on the field,” Prud’homme said.
Football is possibly the best way to bond as a college in Texas, Athletic Director Steve Trachier said.
“Nothing brings a community together like a football game,” Trachier said. “It’s not just the game itself; it’s a community effort. I’m incredibly excited about starting a football program because of what it’ll mean to the university in terms of opportunities for people to socialize and become more connected with the university.”
A football team will also draw more athletes for other sports and more traditional students, Trachier said.
“I think as we continue to grow the athletic department football is an integral piece of that, and it’s going to be a big draw for bringing in athletes for other sports and bringing in students,” Trachier said.
The team has been working out and conditioning on their own all summer to prepare for team practices and the upcoming games, said linebacker Dewaun Colbert.
“On the defense side of the ball, we did pretty good. We’ve got the freshman coming in and learning, and we’ve got the returners coming and helping them. I mean right now we’re on the road to be great,” Colbert, a redshirt freshman business major, said.
The freshman and returners have been working together to create chemistry and learn plays quickly, said quarterback Kane Hardin.
“A lot of the freshman are stepping up and filling a great role. They’re doing great and learning quick, learning on the run. It’s going smooth lately,” said Hardin, a redshirt sophomore mass communication major.
The team hasn’t been preparing for any teams specifically, Hardin said. They’re just trying to be their best.
“It doesn’t really matter who we’re playing we’re just trying to master our own craft,” Hardin said. “We’re trying to be the best we can be.”
The team is excited to put on pads Thursday and start going full speed again, said running back Jemarcus Jones.
“I think we’re ready to put the pads on tomorrow,” Jones, a redshirt junior business management major, said. “It’s going to be hot, but we have to get ready because most of our games are during the midday. I feel like it’s going to help us get ready for the games coming up.”
The Rams are eager for the first game and to be in front of a crowd again, said linebacker Vincent Stephenson.
“I can’t wait to actually be on the field,” Stephenson, a redshirt junior business management major, said. “We’ve been working so hard to get everything together as a team and everything is looking good.”
Season tickets can be purchased for $45 general admission, $22.50 faculty and staff, and children $22.50 on ramsports.net. Single game tickets are $10 general admission and $5 kids 12 and under. Parking is free.