TORRINGTON – Around this time every year, there is a buzz in the college football world with teams using this time for spring practice in preparation for the upcoming season.
However, like everything else, this spring is different, and for locals Logan Harris, Skyler Miller and Jeff Burroughs, they are preparing for their season seniors at the University of Wyoming in a different sort of way.
Online classes. Makeshift weight rooms. Position meetings via Zoom – a video, web conferencing communication application. All of that instead of donning the brown and gold pads and helmet at War Memorial Stadium.
“Spring ball is a very important time for the guys, especially for the younger guys,” Miller said. “Spring ball is a time where you gain a lot of experience and get a lot of reps. That’s where you earn your role.”
Miller is a prime example of that fact, turning heads as he made the switch from linebacker to fullback last season, ultimately earning the starting position heading into the 2019 season opener against the Missouri Tigers.
“That’s where it sucks to have it be gone for this year,” Miller said. “Even for me, it’s only my second year playing a new position. That experience you get, you can’t replicate those reps. You can watch all the film you want. You can do all the drills you want, but until you are getting the live reps, you aren’t getting that true experience.”
In the meantime, Miller is using this time as an extension of winter conditioning.
“I’m taking this opportunity to get some extra training in,” he said. “The strength coaches have done a great job of giving us workout plans with whatever the guys need.”
On the offensive line, Harris meets with the rest of the line and the coaching staff multiple times a week on Zoom.
“We’ve already installed quite a bit through those meetings,” Harris said. “I think we’ll be fine. Not much has changed from last year to this year. It’ll be more of a hit to the defense since they have a new staff.”
Harris has been focusing on getting stronger and schoolwork.
“I’m fortunate enough to have access to a weight room. That’s been beneficial,” he said. “I know our strength coaches have done a really great job of doing workout plans that can be done at home with minimal equipment.”
Harris added the offensive line took a step forward last season, and with minimal changes, he doesn’t see many changes for the upcoming season.
“I think, having the o-line we are going to have this year will be pretty identical to the one we had last year,” Harris said. “We should be able to take off right where we left off.”
As for Burroughs, another fullback on the Wyoming roster, this spring is the longest he’s gone without playing football since his days in high school.
Like everyone else, Burroughs is trying to make the most of the situation.
“We have a treadmill in my parents’ basement, a couple dumbbells in a storage room for a makeshift weight room and then just doing some sprinting and speed work in our driveway,” he said. “I’m just trying to make the best of what we got.”
As a fifth-year senior, Burroughs echoed the Miller’s thoughts on spring practices for the younger players.
“As a fifth-year senior, I don’t feel as it’s maybe not as damaging. I feel like the younger guys, who have been on scout teams, that miss out on those reps that could be unfortunate for them, but at the same time, it’s the same offense,” Burroughs said. “You would have like to have the spring reps, but all the other schools are going through the same thing.”
The coaches have tried to bring some since of normalcy with the position meetings.
“It’s just like a spring ball meeting would have been,” Burroughs said. “We’ll go over the installs for practice and run through all that stuff just like we are getting ready to go to practice.”
The meetings are also some of the only contact between coaches and players right now since they aren’t allowed to be on campus right now.
Even though, things are different this spring for the trio, there are two common themes among them – excitement and high expectations heading into the 2020 season.
“Expectations are pretty high, especially for our offense,” Harris said. “We return a lot of guys. We made a lot of good steps last year as an offensive line and offense.”
“As an offense, specifically, we have a chance to be very, very effective next year at all positions,” Miller added. “We have a lot of experience across the board, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
“That is a lot of excitement about this season and how good we could be as a team,” Burroughs said. “That’s part of the reason you want everything to get back to normal. There is a lot of optimism about how special this team could be this year.”