College Football Diary: What are preseason two-a-days really like?

College Football Diary: What are preseason two-a-days really like?

Ed. Note: The author played football at TCU and is now the research director at WAVE 3 News. This season he'll write a weekly piece offering against-the-spread predictions for those who like to wager on college football.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Across the nation, college football teams are preparing for their upcoming seasons with pre-season camp, also known as "Two-a-days." These camps are secretive and not many know exactly what goes on during the weeks leading up to the season. As someone who participated in the process myself, here is a rundown of what a typical day during camp was like.

6:00am – Wake Up/Breakfast
At 6:00am I would wake up and go to breakfast. The breakfast consisted of a buffet style assortment of food in warming trays. All kinds of breakfast foods were represented – bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, fruit, cereal, and more. Generally everyone coming into breakfast was tired and groggy, so things were pretty relaxed and quiet.

7:00am – Weigh In/Taping/Treatment
The sports medicine staff had us weigh in twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon to monitor any water weight loss. After weighing in we would go get our ankles taped to prevent ankle injuries during practice. If you were suffering from any injury or ailments you also took this time to get the treatment you needed.

7:45am – Position Meetings/Film
Players gathered in the meeting room for their position group and would go over the agenda for the day, such as play installation. Film would be reviewed during these meetings as well.

8:30am – Pre-Practice Walkthrough
After meetings we would head out to the field and walk the field a bit. This generally meant throwing the football around with each other and occasionally the wide receiver coach would bring out the jugs machine. After 15 minutes or so the coordinators would get their side of the ball together and go through a pre-practice walkthrough, where we would "walk" through plays at a slow pace.

8:50am – Stretch
After the walkthrough we would all stretch as a team for about 10 minutes.

9:00am – Morning Practice or Morning "Practice"
The NCAA definition of a practice is one where a ball is used. It doesn't count as a practice if a ball isn't used. Since the NCAA limits how many preseason practices you can have, only some days would we actually practice twice a day with a ball. Even without a ball, the morning practices were not walks in the park. During my first ever "practice" I still got thrown on the ground with a giant gash in my knee.

10:30am – Lifting
After the morning practice we still had to go lift. We never took a break from lifting. While it was never fun to have to go lift weights after a practice it was still required. Our strength coach made sure of it. Before lifting we would be given electrolyte popsicles.

11:15am – Lunch
Once again the buffet trays were brought out with various lunch foods for us to eat. Once done eating we had a break for a couple hours. Most people took this time to take a nap. Those of us who lived on campus could walk back to our dorms, but others who did not live on campus usually just slept in the locker room or in the player's lounge. One of my teammates had an air mattress he would sprawl out in the middle of the locker room.

1:30pm – Taping/Treatment
This began part two of the day, with another taping/treatment session.

2:10pm – Meetings
These meetings began with offense or defense meetings. Afterward was special teams meetings, and then finally individual position meetings where we would go over more play installation and watch more film.

3:20pm – Pre-Practice Walkthrough

3:50pm – Stretch

4:00pm – Afternoon Practice
These practices were more intense than the morning practices and had a ball. Generally the practice lasted from anywhere between 18 and 24 five-minute periods. The key was to stay hydrated throughout practice as it was hot. Despite having an indoor facility, we preferred practicing outside in the 105 degree heat because the indoor facility had no air conditioning. Practicing inside was considered punishment.

6:00pm – Post Practice
After practice the sports medicine staff filled black tubs with ice and water for the players to sit in. Myself, I could never get in them as it was far too cold. We were also given chocolate milk and Gatorade to drink.

6:15pm – Dinner/Post Practice Treatment
Dinner was always interesting because it was fun to watch others drop like flies from cramps during this time. Generally this would happen when the victim got up to get seconds from the dinner buffet, and was more common the first few days of camp. I still remember my first ever day of camp and how we were laughing at people cramping up left and right. Until I got up to get seconds and my legs seized up. I had to be carried to the training room which looked more like a MASH unit, with everyone hooked up to IVs and covered in blankets.

7:00pm – Free Time
Once done eating dinner and done with treatments you had free time. This generally meant hanging out in the player's lounge and watching TV or playing video games with other teammates. During this time the coaches would review the film from practice that day and prepare the agenda for the position meetings.

8:30pm – (More) Position Meetings
These position meetings reviewed the film from afternoon practice. The coaches have already seen it and know what to discuss. The entire practice was reviewed and the players were at the mercy of the coach on how long they were going to be in there. For the team I was on, I felt bad for the defense as it seemed like they always had to stay later than we did watching film.

10:00pm – Snack/Go Home
If you were lucky you got to go home at 10:00pm and try to get 8 hours of sleep. Before leaving you would be distributed a snack. The definition of "snack" is not what a typical person would think. Instead of it just being a bag of chips, the football camp definition of snack consisted of an entire pizza, or a box from Chick Fil A, or a footlong sub sandwich with chips. What was called a snack, others would consider to be a whole meal. They fed us a lot during this time to prevent us from losing weight from all the activity and the heat.

10:15pm – Bed
I lived on campus so I didn't have far to go. I would eat as much "snack" as I could then get to bed. Sleep was the most valuable resource you had during this time of the year. It never seemed like you could get enough of it. Then at 6:00am you would wake up and start all over again. This was your life until the school year started, with only Sunday being an off day.

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