NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - College football teams across the country are doing something they've never done before.
Previously, the NCAA allowed football student athletes to participate voluntarily in preparations for the season 8 hours a week. Within those 8 hours they could only do weight training and conditioning with the strength and conditioning coaches present.
Starting this summer, college football coaches can make these sessions mandatory. The athletes must be in summer school or meet certain academic requirements to participate, but the coaches can now be hands on for up to 2 of the 8 hours allowed per week.
The SFA Lumberjacks enter this fall season with an entire new coaching staff and say this rule couldn't have come at a better time.
"We think it's going to be beneficial as a new coaching staff to reinforce our schemes, our mythology and our terminology," said head coach Clint Conque. "This has just been a real awesome opportunity of us to take advantage of the new legislation. The timing couldn't be better and it is an opportunity forced to build upon the things we did in spring practice."
The new NCAA rule allows 2 hours of field instruction as well as video sessions with their players.
There is a catch to the new rule. You can't use a football. So the Jacks are getting creative by using wrapped up towels and tennis balls,
They say it helps them perfect their craft and enhance their ball handling skills come fall.
"This is an invaluable aspect of the process as we start to gear up towards fall camp in August and of course our opener against Kansas State," said Conque.
Players agree that they are getting a lot out of these sessions, and it's not only benefiting their game, it's building up their team.
"There's not a whole lot going on during the summer other than class, so when guys get to be out here on the field with each other hanging out, it's a good atmosphere and everyone enjoys it," said Aaron Thomas, a junior wide receiver on the team.
"We're getting an incredible amount of work in and the players have been all in. We've asked for their investment, we've asked for their commitment during the summer, and they've done that," said Conque.
Come fall, we will get a true assessment of how the Jacks have taken advantage of their summer.