• August 18, 2019

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB gets early start for upcoming season - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB gets early start for upcoming season

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Posted: Monday, August 12, 2019 6:30 pm

The lights were on early Monday morning when the UTPB football team gathered at 6 a.m. on Falcon Field for its first practice of the 2019 season.

Little more than two hours later, the Falcons were walking back the locker room, fitness tests and group work finished for the day, but just beginning for the next four months.

“It was good to be out there and see what the future holds for us in 2019,” UTPB coach Justin Carrigan said. “We get a chance to see where they are with their fitness and who needs some work and who we need to monitor more closely.

“But this is always an exciting time of the year for everyone and we’ll get out there tomorrow and get things going.”

The Falcons are coming off a 2-9 season, yet played much better than their record indicates and Carrigan expects continued improvement from a program that now has its first set of seniors set to take the field.

That class is lead by linebacker Chris Hoad, the Lone Star Conference’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Hoad finished with 133 tackles last season to lead the conference, finishing third in the nation.

Hoad with fellow inside linebacker Keegan Gray for 222 tackles in 2018, making them the most prolific returning duo in the country.

On the other side of the football, senior wide receiver Ben Galaviz, part of the program since the beginning five years ago, is looking forward to helping the incoming freshmen understand what’s needed to succeed at this level.

“I want to be the one at the front of the line showing them how to run the routes correctly,” Galaviz said. “I want to be a leader this season.”

Along with the returning players, the Falcons have brought in around 50 new players and several new coaches.

Rob Messinger joins the staff as the wide receivers and special teams coach, Victor Gill is the new offensive line coach and Brandon Burton, a former National Football League defensive back, will be coaching the defensive backs, along with being the defensive pass game coordinator.

“I’m excited to get started,” said Messinger, who played defensive back at the University of Kansas.

“We just want to continue to get better every day; it’s a marathon. Just focus on one thing a day and get better at that one thing and then the next day, review and reflect and then say what’s something else I can improve on and just continue to build on that.”

Building the program is something that Carrigan has been focused on for the past five seasons, making changes in his coaching and playing personnel over the past four years.

Now, he feels that the Falcons are on the cusp of being able to compete with the top teams in the conference on a weekly basis.

“There has been about a 50-percent turnover to the staff and I think it’s all to the advantage of the team,” Carrigan said. “If you want to replace somebody, you want to replace better, whether it be a coach or player.

“I think we were able to do that on the staff, I think we were able to improve our staff. I’m excited about all the newness we have with the players and staff.”

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide

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