An interesting article, sadly not given to quick quotation. It's a quick hometown piece about Kerrville kid Kyle Prater, a freshman linebacker who recently reported to LSU for summer drills.
“It’s a little bit harder here, but it all just seems familiar going through this stuff,” Prater said Thursday in a phone interview from Baton Rouge, La. “I just feel like I’ve been through it a little bit (already).”
After dominating Texas high school offenses as Tivy’s imposing outside linebacker, Prater has moved on to LSU, where he’s hoping to do much of the same on arguably the biggest stage of all — Southeastern Conference football.
I've always imagined that the life of a college football player was a mixture of extreme fun and extreme hardship. I've been told that the higher up the chain you go in the football world, the more work it is and the more it's business, and consequently the less fun it is. Practices are tougher at LSU than they would be at, say, Nicholls State. The workouts are longer. The offseasons are shorter.
But with the extra work comes extra glory. Nicholls State athletes, unless they go on to the professional level, will never achieve the hero status that an LSU athlete can achieve. The opportunity just isn't there. With that glory comes certain social benefits. That happens a little later though. For now, it's all work.
I imagine, though, that as unpleasant as certain aspects of being an athlete at a school that takes its athletics can be, being a true freshman just getting acclimated to it is even more torturous. After a couple weeks, here is how Kyle Prater describes the expectations on him:
One thing he has seen change from week to week has been the attitudes of the LSU coaching staff, led by the offensive-minded Les Miles.
“They’re getting on us more — like now’s when we should be able to really see how everything is run and pick up the pattern and the pace of everything,” Prater said. “You know, lifting, running, drills, warmups — they kind of expect us to be able to know almost all of it by now.”
“When you’re going through a tough workout, you can tell it’s a little bit harder, but then you look around you and you can really tell the difference between the guys that you used to work out with,” he said.
Prater's not complaining. He seems to relish the challenge, and I think even if he was miserable he probably wouldn't say so to a nosy reporter. Just imagine though what it is like to be a young player. You're out at the crack of dawn beginning your day with workouts. Then on to class so you can build up a little academic work in the bank and take an easy load in the fall. Then, in the heat of the day, you're out doing 7-on-7 drills. Then studying the play book. All the while, you're trying to get to know your teammates and your surroundings. Prater is from west of San Antonio, which means he's also getting adjusted to much more humid weather.
Judging by the article, they're already well on their way to getting fully up to speed. And this scene is playing out in dozens of programs nationwide.
An article like this, as minor as it is, is helping me get over the baseball disappointment already. Opening kickoff of Football Season is a little over 2 months away. Sadly, it doesn't sound like the author asked the questions I would have asked. Like, "Give me the timeline of a typical day," and of course, "Who looks to be the best out of your group?" But, you take what you can get.
* This is not to suggest Nicholls State athletes don't work hard. I'm sure they do. I just think it's even more intense at a place like LSU. Or Florida. Or Oklahoma. Or USC.