Wonder Boys Don Full Pads for 1st Time

After four days in shorts and helmets or half-pads, it looked, sounded and felt a little more real for the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys football team at practice on Monday morning.

Wearing full pads for the first time this preseason, the Wonder Boys worked out for more than two hours on the new synthetic turf at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.

Heavy overnight rains led head coach Steve Mullins to put his team through drills on the game field rather than the practice field.

“The guys have loved the turf,” said Mullins after practice on Monday morning. “We had a huge storm on Sunday night, so we decided to move everything to the turf for practice today. It was enjoyable…no slips or falls beyond the normal ones. To have the ability and the room to do our individual work drills on the turf is beyond pleasing.”

Equally pleasing to the 16th-year head coach was the way the Arkansas Tech offense bounced back after struggling in practice on Sunday.

“We have liked what we have seen four out of the first five days,” said Mullins. “We took a little step back offensively on Sunday, so today we didn’t really install anything new. We went through a lot of reps and a lot of mental reps with some walk-through stuff. I thought the offense executed much better today. It was extremely exciting to have full pads on today. Tuesday will be our first two-a-day, and I’m anxious to see how the guys react to that.”

The chance to practice twice on Tuesday will also give the coaching staff a larger sample size for evaluation as they make depth chart decisions.

“No coach is ever satisfied, but the intensity has been good,” said Mullins. “Our number of players is very high, so when you get your chance to have your rep you better make the most of it because it will be a while before you get that next rep. I’ve been pleased, and I’ve been pleased with the intensity of our coaching staff.”

The Wonder Boys will continue preseason camp with single practices on both Wednesday and Friday and two practices on Thursday.

Saturday will bring the first full-scale scrimmage of preseason practice. It is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field. Admission will be free and open to the public.

The Wonder Boys are preparing for their 98th season of intercollegiate football. Arkansas Tech has 526 all-time football victories, 10th-most in NCAA Division II history.

Tech will begin its 2012 season by hosting Bacone College (Okla.) for a 6 p.m. non-conference game at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Click here to view more photos from Monday’s practice.

Click here to learn more about Wonder Boys football.