CMU players sing, talk at media day
COLORADO SPRINGS — Considering three of them carpooled to the RMAC Kickoff media day, the Mavericks weren’t happy with their preparation for the conference’s “carpool karaoke” competition.
But man, did they sell it.
Colorado Mesa’s David Tann, Eystin Salum, Blake Nelson and Dustin Rivas climbed into the conference’s black SUV and drew Adele’s ballad “Hello.” And although their timing was a little bit off on the refrain and their harmony (if you can call it that) wasn’t pitch-perfect, they did what they’ve been taught on the football field when the play breaks down — they scrambled.
“Karaoke was just a little bit of pressure,” Salum said.
“We should have looked at the lyrics before we started,” Nelson added. “Our preparation was pretty poor.”
“Especially since we carpooled up here,” Tann said.
The conference will post each team’s video and run a contest next week for people to vote on Twitter for the best karaoke singers, and the Mavericks think they’ve got a shot simply for their showmanship, which had CMU coach Russ Martin and RMAC officials rolling with laughter.
“We went for it,” Salum said. “I’m proud of our effort. We definitely put on a performance.”
“Good or bad,” Nelson laughed, “we put on a performance.”
The karaoke contest was part of the conference’s media day, with all 11 teams’ head coaches and selected players talking up their programs.
Before the event began, the conference released its preseason coaches poll and preseason all-conference teams.
As expected, the voting was close — CSU-Pueblo edged the Mavericks for No. 1 in the preseason rankings by one point, 93-92. Colorado School of Mines, which shared the 2016 championship with the CMU and CSU-Pueblo, was third with 82 points and Dixie State fourth with 69.
Not being picked as the favorite one week before practice starts didn’t bother the players, all of whom wore their RMAC championship rings to the event.
“Postseason is more important than preseason, so we’ll stick with that,” Rivas said. “By the end of the season, it doesn’t really matter where you’re ranked, it’s wins and losses in the conference, so it’s no biggie.”
Rivas earned two spots on the preseason all-conference team, as a defensive back and kick returner. Last week, he was selected the preseason special teams player of the year.
Five others made the preseason all-conference team. Tann, the Mavs’ 1,000-yard rusher last season, is one of two running backs on the list, along with Pueblo’s Bernard McDondle. Also on the all-conference offense are receiver Josh Brown and lineman Austin Fleer.
Joining Rivas on the defense are Nelson, a 2016 first-team all-conference defensive end, and linebacker Tom Saager, who missed all of last season with a broken foot.
The day started for the Mavericks with one-on-one interviews for the RMAC Showcase television show, and then they hustled to warm up their singing voices to do their best Adele rendition.
Then it was to the main stage for the formal press conference and wrapped up the day by asking one another questions in the “Pick Six,” including “Who has the best hair on the team?” and “Tell us something about your coaches people don’t know.”
Tann, who had not cut his hair since transferring to CMU three years ago from the University of Iowa, had 11 inches cut off his flow last spring, donating it in memory of a cousin who passed away from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“Winning by a landslide, David Tann, no question,” he said. “I chopped it but it still looks better than everybody else’s.”
Nelson offered the tidbit that Martin was once a world champion fastpitch softball player and defensive line coach Tom Everson and his wife are outstanding cooks.
Salum chimed in that offensive coordinator Jeromy McDowell professes to have squatted 600 pounds in the weight room.
“Uhhh, Coach, we need some film,” Salum said into the camera. “We need the record book, something…”
Following that was, “Do y’all even lift, and how much can you squat?”
“I might get in the weight room once or twice a week,” deadpanned Nelson, who is a workout fanatic. “I got 585 the other day on squats, so I was feeling pretty good about myself.”
“So you’re saying McDowell still squats more than you?” Rivas chirped.
“Yeah, the man, the myth, the legend,” Nelson said.
Now that the kickoff event is finished, the Mavericks are focused on the work ahead, which begins Aug. 7.
With a whopping 26 returning starters, the Mavericks figure to hit the ground running.
“I have never been associated with a team with this much depth coming back at this point in the season,” Martin said. “Are expectations high? Yes they are, but I think also, these guys will continue to challenge themselves.”