Mavs excited to get Martin era started

The changes were difficult to accept at first.

Now, the Colorado Mesa University football players can’t wait to play for new head coach Russ Martin.

Close to 100 players reported to campus Wednesday, and they begin practice at 9:20 a.m. today at Bergman Field.

“I think like every year, everyone’s excited to get back on the field, but I think this year with all the changes that happened, we’re collectively more excited,” senior defensive back Trent deBraga said. “This is my last year. I don’t think I’ve been more ready for camp. If we don’t win the championship this year, it’s not going to happen for me next year.”

The Mavericks have seven returning starters on offense and six on defense, including preseason All-RMAC players Domonique Lewis on the defensive line and Trevor Stapp on the offensive line.

Mesa lost several players through the change, close to 40, Martin said. Most of them were redshirt freshmen, but a couple were veterans.

Two quarterbacks left. Michael Mankoff graduated early, and Steve Romero decided not to return this season after a meeting with the coaches, Martin said.

Junior Jason Haferman, sophomore Chris Henderson and redshirt freshman Deke Cisco return at QB.

Knee injuries during the spring to junior running back Zach Adair and sophomore offensive lineman Isaac Valentine have both out for the season.

“We have a lot of questions we have to address,” Martin said. “I know the kids are willing to play hard.”

Martin has established an initial depth chart, but emphasized it was for organizational purposes for the new coaching staff. He wants starting positions to be open for competition at least for the first week, if not the first two weeks.

The Mavericks play their season opener three weeks from today at Humboldt State (Calif.) University.

“I feel like I’ve been around here forever,” Lewis said. “I’ve never been this pumped up for a football season.”

Lewis is excited after missing spring practice in order to be eligible for his senior season this fall. NCAA student-athletes are allowed to compete for four years or 10 semesters. This fall is Lewis’s 10th semester of college.

He did more than stay in shape.

“I lost 20 pounds since January,” he said. “I’ve taken it upon myself to be the best I can be.”

Lewis said he weighed 280 last year and is 255 going into camp.

Junior linebacker Jake Edmiston is back after missing spring practice after surgery on a torn knee ligament and a broken hand. The Palisade graduate is the lone returning starter at linebacker.

“Obviously I missed a lot of reps, but at the same time I’ve learned the game better, in a way I’ve never had to learn it, by being on the sideline and seeing the whole game at once,” Edmiston said. “For six months, that’s what I had to do.”

Several players stayed in town this summer and did conditioning workouts.

“There was a good amount of participation throughout the summer,” Stapp said. “There were guys that went home to visit families, but everyone in town was there working out, busting their humps all summer long.”

The Mavericks were 4-7 (3-6 RMAC) in their final season under Joe Ramunno last fall. He resigned shortly after the season.


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