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Weber State football ushers in fall camp with storm-shortened session

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Aug 2, 2023
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Weber State head football coach Mickey Mental, center, laughs as he paces stretching lines on the first day of fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Ogden.
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Weber State linebackers coach Matty Ah You watches Alema Tupuola complete a drill on the first day of fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Ogden.
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Weber State football players warm up on the first day of fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Ogden.
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A view of reconstruction at Weber State's Stewart Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Ogden.

OGDEN — “Getting your feet wet” changed from mere idiom to literal manifestation on the first day of Weber State’s fall football camp Wednesday.

For the first time anyone can remember, the opening day for the team’s month of August preparation brought rain instead of relentless heat on hot turf. A mild, humid day finally ushered in an evening thunderstorm that made another camp-starting disruption this year: Wednesday’s fall opener was cut in half due to lightning strikes nearby after March’s spring debut was postponed due to piles of snow on all available fields.

“I’m 2 for 2,” new head coach Mickey Mental quipped.

Day 1 is in the books as Weber State prepares for its season opener on Aug. 31 when it hosts Central Washington.

“We’re excited to be back today, especially with these guys. Just going out there with them is the best thing that could happen,” junior defensive back and kick returner Abraham Williams said. “Our No. 1 expectation is to make it to the championship but we also have to take it day by day. We’re always focused on each day and we have high expectations for ourselves individually and for the team.”

With Stewart Stadium reconstruction still ongoing, practice takes place on WSU’s “lower fields,” which are made up of a grass football field and an artificial turf, multi-purpose field that was replaced this summer as the first surface of several that will be new this year.

The Wildcats spread out across both fields Wednesday before nearby lightning strikes sent players into their cars or the nearby alumni center. But there were still plenty of smiles and good feelings, things that usually accompany the first day of camp.

Mental said he’s come to learn and see the culture of Weber State now that he rounds the corner from his hire eight months ago, completing a spring camp and now preparing for his first season as head coach.

“Just having great talent but, more importantly, great people here. The players, you don’t have to worry about them. They’re going to do things right and work hard all the time,” Mental said. “The more I’m around these guys, they’re connected. There’s a true family, a brotherhood, that you just don’t see at a lot of places. It’s something special here. The guys genuinely like being around each other, they want to see the other person be successful.

“That’s something that, day in and day out, you don’t take for granted. Our guys are pretty genuine.”

Most coaches will want to accomplish similar things over the course of camp but, in his first year in the head chair, Mental outlined what he expects to do this month.

“It’s developing a work ethic or routine, a standard, on a daily basis and being consistent with that. You don’t want to have ebbs and flows in camp. You want to maintain that focus throughout because that’s what a season ultimately is,” he said. “The second thing is how do we handle adversity. Whether it’s organic or you create it, you’ve got to go through tough times during camp so you know how your team’s going to respond during the season.

“Then it’s about developing the young guys and see if they can help us this year, get things in place, and keep people healthy. Getting guys to the dance week in and week out … and we’re hitting our mark toward the end of the season.”

College teams typically adopt personalities or attitudes from head coaches. Williams says Mental’s approach is fun — equal parts energetic and laid back.

“It kind of reminds us to just be ourselves, and go out there and have fun,” Williams said.


Weber State had five players earn All-America status last season and four of them return to the team this year. All four have been named preseason All-Americans by STATS FCS.

Senior cornerback Maxwell Anderson was named to the First Team with Abraham Williams at kick returner.

Senior offensive lineman Noah Atagi and senior linebacker Winston Reid were tabbed as preseason Second Team players.


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