Editor's note: UTC will open the 2014 football season seven weeks from tonight, and staff writer Stephen Hargis will begin taking a look at the Mocs every Thursday throughout the rest of the summer.
The small window of time to catch their breath is over now. Family vacations and weekend golf trips have all been taken and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football staff has settled back into the office to prepare for preseason practice and eventually the season opener, which will kick off seven weeks from tonight.
Seven of the Mocs' 19 incoming freshmen from last February's signing class, which was ranked number one among FCS programs, are already enrolled in summer classes and have been working out with the team. The others will report on July 29 and the entire team begins preseason camp the following day.
"Now it becomes more regimented, which I like," Mocs head coach Russ Huesman said. "You have to trust your players and the strength staff that they've been doing things the right way, and we certainly have faith that all those guys have been doing that.
"But it's always good when the coaches can be around the players, so this really starts to crank things up as we get ready to report to camp."
Prior to this week only strength and conditioning staff members were able to keep an eye on the Mocs as they ran and lifted, and while quarterbacks and receivers also met to throw and work on timing twice a week.
But this week marked the beginning to the rest of the staff being able to take advantage of the new NCAA rule allowing them be present for workouts and interact with players. Previously, from the time spring practice ended until preseason camp began, coaches were not allowed to do either.
"You always get a little antsy leading up to camp," Huesman said. "It's good to spend some time with the players now and there's a lot of excitement for this season. But there was a lot of excitement before last season and then we went out and lost to UT-Martin and everybody thought we stunk.
"Coaches look at it differently. It's a 12-game season, and we work every week to get better and see where we are. No one game is more important than any other, but everybody gets excited and looks forward to the season opener."
Mocs host one-day prospect camp
The Mocs will host a one-day prospect camp at Finley Stadium this Saturday with check-in time at noon and camp running from 1-5 p.m. There are currently more than 115 players who have pre-registered and anyone interested can still go online to register at mocsfootballcamp.com. The staff will also allow players to register that day to compete.
July 19 UTC will host a 24-team 7-on-7 tournament with games being played at Finley Stadium, Scrappy Moore Field and the intramural fields. The championship game will be held at Finley and there is also a Big Man Challenge that day on campus.
Shafaat on CFPA watch list
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Faysal Shafaat has made the College Football Performance Awards tight end watch list for the third season in a row.
A third-team preseason FCS All-America choice by The Sports Network, Shafaat is the fourth Moc to be included on one of the CFPA lists for 2014. He is a two-time first-team All-Southern Conference player and led UTC with 322 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 35 catches last year, giving him 91 receptions and 13 receiving TDs for his college career.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...