TOWSON, Md. — It was an excruciatingly long break for the Towson University football team. Now they are finally back.
How does it feel?
"Like somebody’s been stuck in a cave for two years and gets to see the sunshine again. It’s awesome," said Head Coach Rob Ambrose with a laugh.
The Tigers are in the middle of their first training camp since August of 2019.
"It feels like 100 years ago," said linebacker Christian Dixon when thinking back to that time. "Dealing with COVID going on, just being at the house, waiting for the next game or figuring if you’re going to have a season. It feels like 100 years ago. I’m not going to lie."
They didn’t have a 2020 fall season or spring campaign earlier this year. The school opted out. So what type of team is Ambrose looking at in his 12th season as Towson Head Coach?
"Well, they are veteran and they are old as hell. But, you can pretty much say that about everybody. I never thought I was going to be at the point where I was coaching 25 year olds-plus in college. But I am," he said. "If we can stay healthy I like this team a lot. More importantly they like each other."
The biggest competition in camp is the one to be Tom Flacco’s replacement as starting quarterback. There are five QB’s battling. As of now it appears grad transfer from Liberty Chris Ferguson, North Carolina transfer Vincent Amendola and Flacco’s backup Jeff Miller have the inside track. Ambrose calls it a tight race.
"For all of us, we’re competing with ourselves, really," said Miller. "I’m competing to be the best Jeff Miller I can be. At the end of the day whoever can run the offense their own way the best is going to be the starter."
"We’re not necessarily out for ourselves but we all want to do the best," said Amendola. "That’s the goal of the quarterback since only one of us can play. But in the room we’re all great friends."
"When you are out at practice you want to do your best and you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward," added Ferguson. "At the end of the day we are all supporting each other and I think that’s the biggest thing."
Dealing with and avoiding COVID-19 is still a constant challenge as well.
The Colonial Athletic Association established a new policy on Wednesday regarding games canceled because of COVID this season:
Any game that cannot be played due to COVID-related circumstances would be considered a forfeit by the canceling team. The canceling team would receive a loss in the conference standings and the opposing team would be awarded a victory. The overall record of both teams would not change since NCAA bylaws consider such games a “no contest”.
The new policy does provide a 24-hour window of opportunity for making up the game, but if it cannot be conducted the next day, it would be considered a forfeit. If both teams are unable to play due to COVID-related circumstances, the game would be declared a “no contest” and would not be part of the record of either team.
"I got almost the entire team vaccinated and that was their choice. I got a couple guys that have abstained and we’ll work through it. It’s going to be a challenge," said Ambrose.
The Tigers open the season on September 4 at Morgan State.