It was a gray and cool afternoon in Collegeville as the St. John’s football team held practice No. 1 of the 2012 season Sunday afternoon.
The team was on the field for about two hours getting back in the swing of things.
“It feels great to get back out here,” said senior running back Steve Johnson, who has not cut his hair in two years now and boasts a long, flowing mane.
“It’s my fourth year and I know the system already. So things come back to you right away. It just a good feeling to be back with all these guys again.”
The Johnnies are trying to improve on last season’s 6-4 record.
“We know things have to change,” Johnson said. “And that comes from working hard in the weight room and coming to practice every day with a junkyard dog mindset. We’re not going to be given anything. We know that now. We have to go out there and take it.”
A few notes from practice No. 1:
* Players were timed in the 40-yard dash before the start of practice. Senior cornerback Bobby Fischer, a preseason All-America pick, had the fastest time (4.53 seconds). Sophomore wide receiver Chase Myhran was second with a time of 4.74. Returning starters had the option of whether to run or not and a number elected not to.
* The team is scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. both today and Tuesday, taking advantage of the new lights at Clemens Stadium.
* Johnson said the new turf installed at Clemens Stadium this summer felt good.
“It’s awesome,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot softer than the old stuff. It feels great.”
* Assistant coach Brandon Novak was in a new place Sunday. The former All-American linebacker with the Johnnies, and the team’s longtime linebackers coach, was on the offensive side of the field. He will be working with the running backs this season. Gary Fasching is now working with the linebackers and Damien Dumonceaux is now working with the defensive line.
* Defensive players are wearing white jerseys in practice this season while the offense is in red.