By: Jordan Kendall, Staff Writer
Illustration by Meghan Hudson/ The Towerlight
For the first time since March, the Towson football program returned to Johnny Unitas Stadium for informal practices.
The Tigers, along with the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and most Division I Football Champion Subdivision (FCS) programs are not competing this season due to the pandemic. Practices consist mainly of outside lifts and individual workouts. While it’s not a typical practice, it was the first time the players were together in person since the pandemic hit.
“We haven’t officially practiced but it means everything,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “Physically, emotionally, being away from teammates, being away from the things you’ve worked most of your life on it was great to be back as a team.”
To keep the players and coaches safe, some COVID-19 protocols were implemented.
According to senior safety SJ Brown, there are daily screenings and weekly testing. To ensure social distancing, the players were separated into groups and divided between Unitas Stadium and the lower field complex.
While some of the FBS programs have either played or will play this fall, most have to wait for the spring. Brown admitted that it’s been hard to watch.
“It’s been difficult watching them play and not being able to play myself, not being able to come to school for so long I’m grateful to be out there,” Brown said.
Last season Brown played in all 12 games and was the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after recording nine tackles and an interception against Maine.
Redshirt junior linebacker Christian Dixon explained that while it’s been difficult, he sees an advantage from holding off for the next season.
“It’s definitely been difficult, but I look at it as I’m not the only one that’s doing this,” Dixon said. “Plus it’s making me better for the season, giving us more time to prepare for the next season.”
Dixon played in all 12 games last season and his 4.5 sacks tied for the team best.
The Daily News Record reported that the CAA is considering splitting into two divisions for the upcoming season. It would be the first time the conference has done so since 2009, but for the first time, the winner of each division would meet in a championship game.
The FCS Playoffs were changed to include 16 teams instead of the usual 24. This includes 11 automatic qualifiers, one being the CAA champion.
The CAA hasn’t announced anything formal, but Ambrose doesn’t believe it’s going to happen.
“If and when games are played in the spring, games will be played on a regional first bases,” Ambrose said. “Things that take the least amount of travel, cost the least amount.”
As sports start to return, for many fans it provides a sense of normalcy in otherwise unusual circumstances, but it also provides that normalcy to the players and coaches.
“It’s been a brutal couple of months, sports are one of the things that reminds us that we are all still together,” Ambrose said. “You watch guys from any kind of background you can imagine. Sports doesn’t care, sports cares about the effort and caring for something bigger than ourselves. For us being a part of that is huge, you’re seeing people getting back to who they are and we need that more than ever.”