With two cases of the H1Ni virus, commonly called swine flu, confirmed last week at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, head athletic trainer Todd Bullard and his staff are on high alert for any symptoms among the 90-plus football players under their care, as well as the rest of UTC's athletes.
"It's a multi-faceted approach," he said during Sunday's practice. "Every athletic trainer is going to talk to every single sport coach and student-athlete about the symptoms to look for. Not to start trying to bring panic or anything, but we've got to be pro-active. And if a kid is infected, then we do want to know about it and we do want to address it properly."
Bullard said good hygiene was critical to keeping everyone healthy. Along with stressing that everyone take post-practice showers right away, he said UTC has also loaded up on germ-killing hand sanitizers.
"We've bought enough hand sanitizers to put outside every locker room, every meeting room and before we let any kid do anything we're going to make them use it," he said.
So far the Mocs remain healthy, but other programs around the country haven't been so lucky.At least two of the Mocs' opponents this season have had players miss preseason practices with flu.
According to a report earlier this month in the Burlington (N.C.) Times News, at least a dozen Elon players were confined to their rooms for a few days with swine flu-like symptoms, and two tested positive for the virus.
At the University of Alabama up to 10 players have displayed flu-like symptoms and a few have been quarantined. The strain of flu that has hit the Crimson Tide has not been disclosed.
Duke, Texas Christian and Tulane are among the other programs that have been hit. According to the New York Times, 31 football players and six volleyball players at Tulane were believed to have the swine flu, which forced the football team to cancel its fan day.
Hewitt to start
Redshirt freshman Will Hewitt will most likely start at left guard, Mcos coach Russ Huesman said. The redshirt freshman earned the job earlier in camp, but then lost it to true freshman David Clemons. However, Clemons has been limited in practice recently due to a hip flexor injury, giving Hewitt the majority of the reps with the starting offensive line.
"We're going to play the guys that have been practicing, that's the bottom line," Huesman said.
Huesman said redshirt freshman Corey Shields, who transferred from Western Kentucky, has been moved from linebacker to safety due to the Mocs' lack of depth in the secondary.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Robert Harrison (knee) went through all of practice for the first time in more than two weeks, while senior running back Bryan Fitzgerald (knee), who won't play in the opener, participated in individual drills. ... Starting defensive tackle B.J. Taylor sat out Sunday's practice with a hip flexor injury but is expected to be fine for Thursday's opener against Glenville State. ... The Mocs will practice at 7:30 tonight at Finley Stadium.