Aug. 2, 2008
TUCSON - Newcomers to the Arizona football program officially reported to the team on Saturday morning as they were fitted for equipment and underwent physical examinations.
Most players have been on campus over the course of the summer while attending summer school courses and participating in voluntary workouts with veteran players. But this morning marked the first time these newcomers were able to be fitted for their practice and game equipment.
"This day isn't quite as exciting for us as it used to be since we've already seen most of these guys around McKale over the summer as they attend voluntary workouts," said Wendell Neal, director of equipment operations. "But, it's a pretty exciting day for the kids since they get to put on their shoes, pads and jersey for the first time."
Neal and his staff carefully fitted every reporting newcomer with a helmet, pads, jersey and pants. Players visited several stations throughout the equipment room while equipment staff members carefully fitted the players with the equipment. The emphasis is on making sure the players are comfortable in their equipment and uniform. To make that possible, players have quite a selection to choose from, including over a dozen different styles of facemasks. The variety is to ensure players can be comfortable, but still protected.
"Our No. 1 priority is safety," said Neal. "The key is to get a good, safe fit. This will be the equipment they use every day in practice and in games."
Freshman offensive lineman Trace Biskin was the first player to pass through equipment stations just after 8 a.m. By the time 11 a.m. rolled around, most all of the incoming freshman and transfer players reporting for the first time had been fitted for equipment. From there, each would undergo a physical exam and then check into dorm rooms later in the day.
On Sunday, the veterans will report to be fitted for their equipment and join the newcomers for the first team functions of the 2008 season. The Wildcats will open Fall Camp bright and early the following morning with a 6:15 a.m. practice at the Rincon Vista Complex. The practice will kick off three weeks of fall training, before beginning game-specific preparation for the season opener against Idaho, which is only four weeks from today.