Ellison junior Garrett Hall has been on the varsity football team since his sophomore year.
And yet as the Eagles continue their first full week of spring practice this week, this offseason already feels different.
“Last year, we weren’t a unit at all. It was a team of individuals,” said Hall, a left tackle. “This year, we’ve worked together doing team dinners and coming up here at 6 in the morning for team workouts.
“All these guys out here, I’m closer to them than I ever have been in three years of varsity.”
With an increased emphasis on mental toughness and team chemistry this spring, Ellison is hoping next season will feel different after going 0-10 for the third straight season last year.
And second-year head coach Trent Gregory and his staff
have challenged the Eagles’ mental toughness by pushing them physically.
“It’s intense,” Hall said. “There are times I go home and don’t even want to get out of bed, I’m just so tired.”
But the players, who participated in grueling weight-room workouts, appreciate what the hard work has already done and will continue to do for them as the offseason progresses.
“We’re used to working together,” junior linebacker Austun Lambert said, “so if we challenge one another, we work harder and we’ll get better every day.”
Most importantly, the players believe in the plan Gregory and his staff have for them as they attempt to return the program to its winning ways.
For junior running back Deon Burch, the message doesn’t just apply to Friday nights.
“We’re most definitely going to win a ball game,” Burch said. “But his mission is not only to win ball games but to make us better men.”
And that goes back to the mental aspect that Ellison has been focusing on this offseason.
The Eagles know they have deficiencies they must address on the field.
But the one that matters to them most is mental.
“The strength is there. Our strength and conditioning’s been peak,” Hall said. “Right now, it just comes mental-wise and I’m excited to see how that turns out.”