Brains Over Brauns: First Year Football Players Show Their Smarts

Brittany Lovette, Staff Writer

Change is roaring in throughout campus, especially with a new football program. The MU community is wondering why such a large number of freshmen signed up for the first year program.

No scholarships are awarded to athletes, and all students are accepted according to their academic records.

First year Brandon Salazar said he was strictly attracted by football, but he later became interested in the academics when visited.

Head coach Mark Ross visited Salazar at one of his high school football games to encourage him to check out MU when Salazar was searching for schools to attend in the fall.

“I remember joking around and I was just like there was no shot of me ever going to that school. Then, came down to it, I actually went and visited and it was a cool environment,” Salazar said. “So I became interested in the whole football thing, sucked me in with everything. It’s history from there.”

First years have a chance to continue this new football tradition for the next four years. They will  grow together as a team, progress, and be even better players when they are seniors.

Junior  player Joe Winter said he thinks  first year students wanted a fresh start.

“I don’t think they came here just for football, probably more for academic reasons. But like starting something new, you know I think they wanted to start a new tradition. That’s what we are working on now,” he said.

The team is creating traditions, but not like the one on the infamous pre-football program t-shirt that read “undefeated since 1924.”

“It’s a building process and I think we are getting there,” said Winter.

Building a new program takes time for any sport, and players need experience and repetition to grow skills, Ross said.

“Be willing to work.  Be willing to compete every day.  If you are willing to work, willing to compete, then you have a chance,” Ross said.

Ross sais he believes MU will be a draw to players for many reasons–include footbal and academics.

“I’m sure it’s a combination of both, but to what degree that would be pure speculation on our part. In the process we emphasize the importance of not making a decision based for any student athlete,” said Ross. “I don’t care what sport played. That’s the majority of your decision, be very careful because in the end you’re only one play away from not being able to compete in that sport again and if that happens you better be happy where you are at, and know that the school you’re at has your major, and gets you on the road to a career.”

Ross and his staff emphasize this to their players:  School comes first.

“As much as someone might want to play a sport at this school I still think if its not the right fit they’re not likely to choose that school to go to,” said Ross.

However, Ross does feel that football did give the first years a reason to come to MU.

“Most freshmen aren’t going to compete right away at this level. Obviously in our situation the majority of the kids are the majority of who we’re playing with, the vast majority,” Ross said. “So that probably played a bit more of a role than normal but these guys have gotten very little reports back. They seem to be doing well academically.”

Ross believes hard work and sacrifice are not cliches; they are needed to build a strong team.

“Nothing in life is given; it’s earned. It’s earned through a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice at times,” said Ross.

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