Kennesaw State football goes through first workout

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Kennesaw State's held its first football team practice in the history of the program at "The Perch", their practice field in Kennesaw. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Maybe Brian Bohannon will get a good night’s sleep now.

The excitement of leading his first workout as the football coach at Kennesaw State kept him awake the past few evenings.

But on an unseasonably cool summer morning Tuesday, Bohannon and his assistants put 78 players wearing gold jerseys and black shorts or white jerseys and black shorts through the first of what will be many paces before the team’s first game at East Tennessee State on Sept. 3, 2015.

“The kids were fired up; we were fired up to be out here again,” Bohannon said. “It’ll get better every day.”

It may only seem like an age has passed since Kennesaw State first broached the idea of football in 1999. Most of the players who ran through various drills Tuesday morning were 2 or 3 years old when that exploration committee was authorized.

After the dream went dormant, it was revived when a 33-member committee led by Vince Dooley was formed in 2009.

The financing plan for the sport was authorized by the Board of Regents on Feb. 13, 2013, and university president Dan Papp and athletic director Vaughn Williams announced the next day that football was coming to Kennesaw State.

Bohannon was introduced as coach March 26, 2013, and he spent the next 15 months preparing for many things, including Tuesday’s workout.

The day went mostly well.

The players were enthusiastic, but it was evident that once the adrenaline was used up, a couple of players may not have followed the offseason workout program.

There was no mercy, not even on the first day.

Those players were pulled out and made to do other exercises.

“Effort, attitude and toughness is our mantra,” Bohannon said. “It’s about the foundation, not about the scheme. It’s about who we want to be.”

The day started with what seems evident, but goes to that foundation: The players were instructed how to respond to instructions.

It continued with Bohannon and his assistants reinforcing what eventually will be a catalog of little things, from touching the lines during sprints to keeping knees bent during other drills.

“It was a learning experience for everyone,” Chandler Burks, the first player to commit to the Owls, said.

Perhaps the only person more fired up for Tuesday than Bohannon was Williams, who couldn’t attend the workout but seemed ready to sprint from his office the mile or so to The Perch, the recreational fields where the team will practice.

“It’s been real, but now it’s real,” Williams said of the work that that led to Tuesday and the result that was the workout.

There’s still much work to do.

Williams and his staff will work on the needed approval from the Board of Regents for the desired upgrades and renovations at the team’s home, Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

With a perhaps better-rested Bohannon, the players will be back on the fields to continue workouts Wednesday.

After all, it’s only a year until the opening and a dream 15 years old is realized.

“It’s only going to get better,” player Taylor Henkle said. “We will grow and grow and keep pushing until game day.”

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