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State college teams set to start practice

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Staff Reports

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After welcoming 103 players to campus Sunday, the LSU Tigers were set to open their ninth training camp under head coach Les Miles this morning.

Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State also start fall practice today under new head coaches.

LSU: Sunday served as reporting day for the Tigers as the players went through a series of organizational, academic and team meetings in preparation for the first day of practice.

Players were also fitted for equipment and underwent physicals and other screenings with the medical staff.

“This is my ninth fall camp here at LSU and I can tell you that it is always a pleasure to take a team and return them to Baton Rouge,” Miles said at his first meeting with the media Sunday afternoon.

“We have had a great summer. I think this team took on a great challenge with the opener at TCU and understanding that is a quality opponent and they are going to have to start fast. To me there has been a lot of weight lost and some strength improved and I think we come to the start of camp very healthy and ready to compete.”

Miles said that with so many new faces on this year’s team and with the departure of 11 juniors from last year’s squad, evaluation will be a critical piece of training camp for the staff.

“I think what we have to do is evaluate extremely well,” Miles said. “I think we have a number of talented people. I want to evaluate the guys that we have coming, I want to see who they are, I want to give them the opportunity to catch balls and run, and see how violent and physical they are. I want to evaluate them and I think that is a big piece of our camp that we have to really focus on.”

LSU opens the 2013 season on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. against TCU in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs opened fall camp Sunday as 99 players reported.

“The greatest thing about report day is there were no surprises,” said first-year head coach Skip Holtz. “That is the thing as a coach you always worry about and hold your breath to make sure everyone gets here safely and you don’t have any accidents or no surprises. That was the biggest thing about report day and everyone that was supposed to be here today was here. That means that all the upperclassmen that were expected to report were here and it also means that 100 percent of our signing class was here.”

The 99 players on the camp roster came from 11 states overall. The roster of players reporting also included 100 percent of Louisiana Tech’s 2013 signing class, the first signing class under the Holtz era.

“There is a lot that is said during recruiting in February and a lot of people rank recruiting classes and evaluate recruiting classes based on who signs,” Holtz said. “I think it is one thing to sign them, but it is another thing to have 100 percent of them show up on your campus ready to go.

“I think that speaks volumes for this staff with the way they evaluated and recruited.”

Northwestern State: As Northwestern State goes through its first preseason practice under new coach Jay Thomas this afternoon, changes abound.

Not only are there new offensive, defensive and special teams schemes being implemented, there’s a return to using the grass practice fields to the south side of Turpin Stadium for the first time in 12 years. Also, the entire 95-man squad is immersed in a true preseason camp atmosphere with everyone staying in venerable Varnado Dorm, the oldest on-campus housing at Northwestern, dating back 74 years.

Housing the Demons in one dorm, instead of allowing the players to scatter in several housing facilities in and around campus, during camp is a concerted effort by Thomas to promote team chemistry and bonding.

The players obviously relished the opportunity to spend their down time between practices and meetings together for a couple of weeks before classes begin on the final week of the month.

“What I’m looking forward to (most) is staying in the dorm together,” said junior cornerback Imoan Claiborne, talking with his hometown newspaper, the Alexandria Town Talk. “Living in one place will actually better us as far as being a team.”