Cardinals start camp; UNT of no concern yet

Published 5:37 pm Monday, July 31, 2017

Of the 29 practices the NCAA allots each Division I team before its first game of the season, only five of Lamar’s will be dedicated to focusing on North Texas.

“The first thing we have to do is teach the offense and the defense and develop our special teams,” Mike Schultz said a day before beginning his first preseason camp at Lamar. “We’ve had 15 practices [in the spring]; we’re not where we need to be offensively, defensively or special teams, but we don’t have to be. We’ve still got 29 practices to where we need to be. I think the first thing we need to do is get the foundation set on what we want to do offensively, defensively and special teams.

Lamar began camp at 6 a.m. Monday and followed that up with an afternoon workout. The 91-degree mostly sunny afternoon wasn’t hot enough to force the Cardinals to a workout later in the day.

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Schultz stressed the Cardinals, who finished 3-8 last season under Ray Woodard, will have to hydrate constantly as they train in the heat. Low humidity, however, gave them some help, with showers expected to come for the rest of the week.

“Camp is going to be very challenging for our student-athletes,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough camp. We’re going to go in the heat of the camp. We’re going to start at 4 o’clock. We should come off the field somewhere around 5:30 p.m.

“We’re going to go into it with the idea that we’re going to go an hour and a half. If they handle that hour and a half like they should, it’ll just be an hour and a half. If I feel at the end of the day we need to go another 5 to 10 minutes, I may add about another 5 to 10 minutes onto that practice, but we’re going to get what we need to get done that day.”

The goal of Lamar vs. heat is for the heat to become the Cards’ friend on game days. However, none of their games have been scheduled for earlier than 6 p.m. (The kickoff time at Sam Houston State on Oct. 21 is yet to be determined.)

One key player from last season was not expected to begin drills Monday. Third-year sophomore linebacker Cameron Hampton started in 10 games and had 85 tackles (35 solo) in 2016, after redshirting at Texas and not seeing any playing time at LU in 2015. But Schultz said Hampton has some “academic work” to take care of before he can report to camp.



Schultz did not introduce a pyramid diagram explaining Lamar’s culture, but included in the pyramid are four qualities.

He called trust, honesty, accountability and integrity “the four biggest words” in the program.

“We’re developing a different culture,” he said. “I think the development of that culture and the way want things done has been a hurdle. Our kids have been great. Between the kids and our coaching stuff, we’re developing the culture we want in place. Are we there yet? No. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re not where we used to be.”

So far, Schultz’s staff seems to be winning the praises of the players. Sophomore quarterback Adam Morse of Groves said he’s drawn much closer to the coaches in the offseason.

“This offense is probably the best offense I’ve ever been in,” senior quarterback Andrew Allen said. “The coaching staff is phenomenal, holding everybody accountable and getting everybody after it. It’s been a great offseason so far.”

Togetherness could be a fifth quality. Senior Blake McKenzie said all the quarterbacks have a tight relationship as they vie for the starting role.

“It’s not like anybody holds grudges against each other,” McKenzie said. “Everybody likes each other and knows each other. We just want the best guy to play.”



For every Lamar standout, there’s hope of building a professional career that will land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

LaDainian Tomlinson is the example they can follow. Schultz coached Tomlinson, who’ll be inducted into Canton on Saturday, at TCU as his offensive coordinator from 1997-2000.

“A lot of our players weren’t recruited by those premium schools, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State,” Schultz said. “You know who also wasn’t recruited by those schools? LaDainian. Coming out of high school, LaDainian had three offers. One was to North Texas, one was to the University of New Mexico, one was to TCU, and late because of a change in the coaching staff was Baylor.

“You can’t measure heart. It’s hard to measure heart. LaDainian was one of the hardest working players I’ve ever been associated with. Unbelievable strength and unbelievable work ethic.”



“The top 32 quarterbacks are the most accurate people alive, making money for it in the NFL. They still work on accuracy every day.” — Morse, asked what he’s working on as a quarterback.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews




About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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