The focus and enthusiasm displayed by the Demons through summer conditioning and now preseason camp has players and coaches alike confident that 2012 will be a breakthrough season for the squad.
“The leadership on the team asserts themselves when needed. We don’t tolerate a lot of nonsense. We have fun but not to the point it gets out of hand. That’s a big growth from spring to now. We’re definitely a lot more focused,” said punter Nic Russo, part of a 24-man senior class, including 10 who became Demons in the 2009 signing class and another six who have arrived at NSU since as transfers.
“I think it’s because Coach Peveto’s first recruiting class is now the core of the senior class. They’ve seen the whole process through completely, so they’re just ready and hungry. This is it, one last shot to get a championship, and they’re totally sold out for the program,” he said.
A focal point for any team is the quarterback position. Having a returning starter is a “big plus,” said Peveto, and Brad Henderson’s performance this week has been a catalyst for the Demons.
“When a quarterback is not the leader of your team, you’ve got problems. Leadership has gotta show, it’s gotta shine at that position, and Brad Henderson is doing a very good job providing exactly what we need in that manner.”
Senior defensive end Wade Williams believes another key is that about 90 players stayed in Natchitoches this summer, attending classes and combining on off-season voluntary conditioning workouts.
“We had a great summer and it is showing up now,” he said. “The team came in really excited, ready to work. The conditioning and hard work put in really built momentum that is carrying us through into camp and allowing us to get good work done.”
That happened Saturday morning as the NSU veterans worked in sultry conditions during two hours at Turpin Stadium.
“We had a solid practice and got better this morning,” said junior safety Calvin Morton. After the newcomers went through a two-hour session Saturday afternoon, the Demons got their first break of camp. There will be no on-field activity Sunday. Practices resume with the veterans at 9:40 Monday morning and the newcomers at 4:40 Monday afternoon.