CHARLESTON (WCIA) — For the first time in 10 months, the Eastern Illinois football team was able to practice in full pads. Due to the pandemic, the last time they practiced with full pads was during the 2019 regular season.
The Panthers have been practicing now for several weeks, but this week marked the first time they had a full-contact practice. It’s been especially helpful for the defensive line, with 7 true freshman in that position group.
“I’ve seen a lot of freshman come in, try to coach them up on the things they didn’t know last year,” says sophomore lineman Tim Varga. “It’s a blessing, coming out here with my pads on, with the brothers. Right now during this crazy time, a lot of people aren’t doing what we’re doing, and we’re fortunate enough to have a coaching staff that really cares about us.”
Getting back to contact drills was also a big step for head coach Adam Cushing. It’s the first time Cushing the second-year head coach has seen his freshman go head-to-head in drills at the college level.
“They’ve earned this. Our guys have been doing a great job of paying attention to the details and doing everything they possibly can to get themselves to this point,” says Cushing. “I’m just so happy for those guys that they got to earn the opportunity to be out here, and truly line up and play football.”