MIAMI — Returning to classes and the practice field after a nine-week break, more than 120 true freshmen, redshirts, sophomores and transfers will report Sunday at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College for the start of a month-long optional football workouts.
“Our adage this season is ‘All The Way Up,’” head coach Clay Patterson said. “We feel like we laid a strong foundation in our first year with the program, and we don’t want to settle for just making the playoffs, we want to go all the way to the top and our kids are ready to take that next level.
“The key to our solid foundation is the fact that last summer we had a lot of guys coming back that really bought in to what our coaching staff was saying,” Patterson said. “Then, when they went through the battles together, they understood how the things they were being taught worked and produced success.
“Now, we’ll have a bunch of guys that went through those battles and are ready to come back and help us win championships,” Patterson said. “Those are the things that gave strength and stability to our foundation.”
Last year the Golden Norsemen finished 5-4 on the regular season and 4-3 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
The Golden Norsemen earned the fourth playoff spot in the conference after defeating then-No. 1 Trinity Valley 30-29 on Sept. 10 in Miami and then No. 14 ranked Navarro 51-46 on Sept. 24 at Red Robertson Field.
Making their first post-season playoff appearance since 2012, the Norsemen dropped a 48-40 decision to Trinity Valley in Athens, Texas, to finish 5-5 overall.
Activities on Sunday revolve around the student-athletes checking into the dorms, enrolling in classes to either get ahead academically or get caught up.
“We want to make sure each recruit is in the right classes and make sure they are where they need to be,” Patterson said. “Then, our coaching staff will make sure they are in the dorms, have a physical (or take one) on file and that their health insurance is up to date.”
“After those administrative things are taken care of, we’ll use the Fourth of July holiday (Tuesday) to help our in the community,” Patterson said. “They won’t be able to leave, so we’ll get them involved in things at the park like the rodeo.
Each day of OFWs will consist of classwork in the morning and then weight training by specific groups in the Ivan C. Crossland Football Complex at 2, 3 and 4 p.m, Patterson said.
“All workouts will be in shorts and t-shirts without any pads or helmets,” he said.
From a coaching standpoint, every OFW session — spring, summer and fall — is a do-over.
“Each session we always start from the beginning at day one,” Patterson said. “That’s how you implement the foundation and fundamentals of what you want to get done.
“It gives the kids a chance to catch their breath in August before coming back to preseason workouts and improve on the progress they have made,” Patterson said.
Going into the second of three workout sessions, Patterson is excited about the amount of depth the Golden Norsemen have at each position.
“I think we’re not only going to have a lot of depth, but we’re going to have more speed and quickness than we had last year,” Patterson said. “Those things are key in this league.
“You want to not just throw 11 players at the opposition, but you want 22 and have backups that come in and get the job done,” Patterson said. “I think our depth along with our age and maturity in this group will be very beneficial to us.
Patterson said that if there is a deficiency heading into July, it’s the unknown as far as the incoming freshmen are concerned.
“We want to see who has what it takes to be a Norseman and who can play college football,” he said.
“Everybody sees the glamour of college football, but they don’t understand the amount of work that goes into it,” Patterson said. “After all, ‘Neither the Timid Nor The Weak Can Inherit The Norse Tradition,’ so we’ll find out who can get things done.”