OGDEN — The long summer is slowly coming to a close, and the Weber State football team held its first practice of fall camp to get ready for the upcoming season.
“I’m excited about this year,” said senior running back Bo Bolen. “I think we got a good team. We’re going to surprise some people for sure.”
With the coaches and media preseason polls had Weber finishing at 11th and 12th out of 13, respectively, the team has a lot to prove.
“I’ve never been someone that listens to all that,” Bolen said of the polls. “I don’t really care about that. I think it’s all about how you finish.”
The biggest question mark for the Wildcats remains the same -- who will start at quarterback now that Austin Chipoletti has transferred to the University of Alabama at Birmingham? A decision has yet to be made, and there seems to be no clear front-runner.
“It’s interesting, it’s kind of a toss up,” said Bolen of the current situation. “They’re definitely going to have to win their position. It’s like that everywhere, but I think the quarterback position is the most wide open. I think there’s going to be the most competition. There’s a lot of good quarterbacks gunning for that starting spot.”
While one has yet to stand out, Weber State head coach Jay Hill is pleased with what he is seeing.
“I think all those quarterbacks have a chance right now. Jadrian Clark had a great practice today, Billy Green looked good -- I like all the guys,” said the first-time head coach. “They’re all going to compete, they’re all going to have an opportunity. Chad Leckington and Riley Bradshaw are all in the mix. How they develop over the next two weeks will be key.”
As camp progresses and the season draws nearer, Coach Hill will make his decision when the timing is right.
In the meantime, the former Ute assistant coach will continue to get his younger players up to speed with the upperclassmen.
“I thought the veterans played well today, and I thought they picked up where I wanted them to be,” said Hill. “Some of the freshman are not quite where I hope they’d be. We talk about shrinking the gap between the best and the worst and shrinking the gap between the most committed and the least committed -- we got to get those young guys to step that back up and become what I know they can be.”
As far as expectations for the season, Coach Hill understands the rebuilding process, and having reasonable goals that lead to bigger and better accomplishments.
“The biggest thing is improvement -- improvement on the scoreboard, improvement in the wins and losses, we just want to see improvement,” said Hill. “The next goal would be we want to have a winning season, the next goal would be to compete for the Big Sky Championship, and then on to going to the playoffs. All those things end up being goals that we have, but the most important one that we have to set is we got to go in and play great at Arizona State.”
What do the players think about their new coach and staff?
“I knew (in spring camp that) I had a great coach,” said senior Boise State transfer cornerback Deon’tae Florence, “The first thing I said that he’s a young Chris Peterson. He’s just like Chris Peterson to me. Only thing is is he’s younger, he probably doesn’t have the wins or stuff like that, but I think it’ll come. I think he’s going to be a great coach.”
For Bolen, he sees the support that Hill’s staff offers off the field as a valuable asset that will lead to the team’s success.
“They’ve done a good job of instilling good life values in us as people as human beings, and I think that’s all carrying over to the football field,” said Bolen. “They’re focused on us, they’re focused on me personally and focused on everybody personally. I think all the coaches have good relationships with all their players because they understand that you’re going to play better if I feel the love from a coach, if I feel that he actually supports me.”
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BGarsideSE or on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE