MIAMI — After finishing the four-week summer football workout and academic session, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen take a two-week break before returning to campus Aug. 10 for the start of preseason drills.

“This has been a pretty fun summer for both the players and the coaches,” second year NEO head coach Clay Patterson said. “We started out with more than 150 on July 1 and we’ll end with 140 to start the preseason.

“From a coaching standpoint it made for a long day,” Patterson said. “We started at about 5:30 in the morning to about 6:30 to 7 o’clock at night, but it was fun.

“We enjoyed the experience of bringing in some new coaches to the program and welcoming a lot of freshmen, walk-ons and transfers,” Patterson said. “Then, from a personal standpoint, it was exciting to see the difference between our kids from last year to this summer.

“The progress we’ve made as a team has been really fun to watch,” Patterson said. “I’m having to find new ways to challenge them so we can isolate their weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”

Another advantage Patterson and his staff have enjoyed this year has been the commitment the sophomores have made to the program.

“We didn’t have to spend a lot of time teaching the freshmen what to do because our sophomores have really stepped up and been leaders,” Patterson said. “They have done a great job of making sure our freshmen understand the level of mental toughness and the aspects we’ve created in our program.

“Because of the elimination of two-a-day practices, we are allowed to bring our kids back a couple of days earlier than the original date of Aug. 12,” Patterson said. “That is a Southwest Junior College Football Conference-wide rule.”

Prior to the start of the regular season on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. against New Mexico Military Institute on Red Robertson Field, the Golden Norsemen will hold a preseason scrimmage at home. Kickoff will be 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24 against Langston University.

“That will allow us as coaches to make sure who we will start the season with,” Patterson said. “Then, we can get into our 'game week' routine before facing New Mexico Military the following weekend.”