CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - With 46 returning letterwinners leading the way, Austin Peay State University's football team will report to camp, Sunday, as the Governors prepare for the 2011 football season.
"I can't wait to see them here on campus," APSU coach Rick Christophel said. "I am anxious to see our older guys, how much they have improved, and also see the new guys, to see how they are going to fit in. We still are waiting on some of the recruits to get cleared by the (NCAA) Clearinghouse, but hopefully we can get most everybody in."
Christophel has a good idea about the condition of several returnees. A large contingent of the Governors remained in Clarksville over the summer and worked out on campus, utilizing APSU's facilities.
"I think Coach (Ryan) Taylor has done a great job in the weight room," Christophel said. "The guys who stayed here during the summer have been dedicated and worked very hard. We couldn't be around them but the ones that stayed here are going to be acclimated to the heat when things start. We have to come back with a mindset that we are going to be a lot better than we were last year."
A young Governors team finished 2010 with a 2-9 record, with only one victory in the Ohio Valley Conference. Even with so many letterwinners back, the team is still relatively young. The Govs do return 18 starters from 2010, nine on offense, seven on defense along with two special teams performers.
"I had a lot of fun coaching this group this spring," Christophel said. "One of the reasons for that is we had competition. Competition breeds success and breeds competitiveness. Hopefully, we will continue that in the fall."
In looking to this fall, one of the most interesting aspects is the fact the Governors staff will not be counting on many freshmen immediately to contribute-last year three first-year freshmen started on defense, including both cornerbacks. In fact, with the departure of four-year starter Ryan Key at punter, the Govs may be seeking just one newcomer to step into a starting role.
"We are going to be looking at couple of wide receivers-we signed five-to help us immediately and one of the safety positions we probably will be looking for a freshman to help early on," Christophel said. "To be real honest, other than at punter, we really are not counting on a freshman to come in and possibly play immediately.
"You build success programs by being able to redshirt freshmen. Last year, for instance, we recruited a lot of young offensive linemen and we were able to redshirt three of them. We recruited some guys on the defensive line we have been able to redshirt. We have a bunch of good bodies on both sides of the ball.
"We still will need to recruit and develop some playmakers. But coming into camp, we think we have a chance to be a heckuva lot better than we were last year."
The Governors will undergo physicals Sunday night and will be in assorted meetings Monday morning. The first practice will occur 3:45 p.m., Monday.