Everyone motivated as camp opens
Junior Ed Foley (42) has fully landed from last season yet.
Junior Ed Foley (42) has fully landed from last season yet.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ready or not, the JU football season opens Monday as players are reporting, readying for meetings and tests today with first field practice scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Every player has his own motivation for the upcoming season, everything from seeing how an injured body will adapt to having an uncomfortable feeling about how last season ended.

For linebacker Layne McCombs (Venice, Fla.), missing all of last season and the last several games of the 2010 campaign with injuries has meant a new perspective on the game after an excruciating wait to get back on D.B. Milne Field.

“Not being able to play was one of the hardest things that has happened to me,’’ McCombs, a linebacker, said on the eve on the new season. “I’ve been playing football since I was 10 years old and the first year I couldn’t play it really hit me and I realized what I lost. Sitting out has built up and I’m ready to let go.’’

The wait, he said, has reinforced his love of the game.

“I do have a new perspective; I thought I lost it forever but I got it back and it made me realize what I had and I want to take every opportunity to play the game I love most,’’ he said.

The redshirt senior said his knee injuries are of little concern currently.

“It doesn’t worry me because I’ve put in the time and effort to get back to where I am and I know what I’m capable of doing,’’ he said. “I’m back to my normal numbers in the weight room and on the field. I want to make sure everyone is on the same page and we can get things going.’’

Junior safety/nickel back Ed Foley (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) still is bitter at how last season ended with a 7-4 record and has more than his share of “what could have been'' moments. The Dolphins lost, 23-14, to San Diego in the Pioneer Football League championship.

“Camp has its ups and downs, but the team’s just excited to get back at it the way last season ended and all,’’ he said. “The 7-4 record, losing in the conference championship game after flying all the way out to San Diego. It was one play at the end and if we make that play the offense can get the ball back.’’ And, what might have been.

Despite his motivation, preseason camp is still camp and it wears on players (and coaches) after a while.

“It’s just a drag all the way through,’’ Foley said. “You’ve got to wake up every morning at 5:30, 6 o’clock and you don’t go to bed until 11, that’s when you get out of meetings, so you’re really not going to bed until 11:30 and some guys will stay up until one. I’ve been here for two years now so I know the stuff like the back of my hand even though there’s still more stuff to get in and get more knowledge out of it but the meetings are the most difficult part.’’

The team’s first day in pads this year will be Saturday – the first scrimmage.

“That’s going to be exciting,’’ Foley said.

He said he won’t be surprised if the coaches are a little more intense this time around because of last year’s ending.

“It will basically be the same routine, but I feel like they’re is going to amp it up this year after the way last season ended,’’ he said. “They don’t want to have to happen like that again. Last year’s team was good enough to win the championship but it didn’t happen that way.’’

Saturday’s scrimmage will be a morning affair and at 2 p.m. the team and coaches will play host to the SeaBest Seafood Football 101 clinic at the field.

- Jim Nasella