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Lamar’s football team returns to campus

BEAUMONT — After an offseason full of unknowns and question marks, the Lamar University football team took a step toward normalcy as approximately 85 players returned to campus Monday morning. Unlike in previous years, the Cardinals’ first days back on campus had more to do with personal wellness than preparing for the 2020 season opener.

Players spent Monday morning practicing social distancing while doing anti-body testing. Players reported to Dauphin Athletic Complex all wearing masks and sticking to strict guidelines enforced by the LU athletics training staff.

“We’ve had a lot of people working tirelessly to get student-athletes back on campus,” head coach Blane Morgan said. “(Marco Born’s) leadership during this time has been incredible. There are a lot of people who have put in countless hours for this moment to occur. We’re appreciative for all the work that everyone has done to get us to this point.”

Hired in December, Morgan is entering his first season at the helm of the Cardinals’ program. Morgan and his staff are finding themselves in a completely unique situation in the history of the game. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NCAA to begin canceling all spring competitions in March, which included spring football. The shutdown started just days before the Cardinals were set to open camp. It also prevented the LU coaching staff from having its first in-person observation of the returning roster.

“The players actually moved in on Sunday, and just being able to see the guys — the returners and the newcomers — was incredible,” Morgan said. “That moment really filled us all with some energy. We do this for the guys and just being able to have them around again was great.

“During this time, we’ve come to expect the unexpected. As coaches, we have had to expect that something was going to happen that we didn’t expect and we had to learn from it and move forward. I think all of these guys are anxious to be able to get back out on the field and be able to work out. I know as a coach our staff is ready to be out there with them,” added Morgan.

In addition to a new coaching staff, the Cardinals are also looking to fill several holes due to the normal attrition of college athletics. The Cardinals return 47 letterwinners and 17 starters from the 2019 season. The breakdown for returning starters includes five on offense, six on defense and six specialists. Big Red graduated all but one starter on both the offensive and defensive lines, and 2019 quarterbacks were decimated by injury, forcing LU to close the season with a converted receiver running the offense for the final three games.

— Lamar sports information