The wait is over for the Guelph Gryphons as the on-field portion of training camp has opened at Alumni Stadium.
“It was good, really good, all around,” fifth-year quarterback Theo Landers said after the second of two opening-day sessions. “We were moving really fast, the whole group. I think as a full group, we were moving really fast and we were all together. We’re sound as an offence.”
While the team had numerous captains practices throughout the off season, this was the first time since the spring camp that the coaching staff was also on the field.
“For me, I’ve been looking forward to finally going to a competitive period and going against our own defence,” Landers said. “We had a big skelly period which was nice so to be able to compete and see our guys against our own guys, it was good.”
The run-up to training camp is always an anxious one for the players as training camp nears. For most, it can’t come soon enough.
“I was super anxious,” Landers said. “We’ve been working out for a long time with all the guys and just being around all the guys so to finally be able to come out here and play some actual football was nice.”
This summer Landers spent more time in Guelph than his hometown of Maple Ridge, B.C.
“This summer I definitely stayed for the majority of the months as opposed to the other summers, just knowing my position on the team and just knowing I had to be around here,” he said. “We have a great facility here as well so we have all the necessities that you need to be a better player this year. It was a good decision for me to stay.”
While the days of getting in shape at training camp are long gone, this year there is even less time to get ready for the season opener as teams were not allowed to get on the field for actual coach-led team practices until 10 days before their first game. That made keeping up with your physical workouts a lot more important this summer.
“That’s the big thing and another thing is that we need to spend a lot more time inside in looking over film and going over plays on the board,” Landers said. “That’s more important now, I feel, that we have a shorter training camp.”
It also means that the team and individual players need to pinpoint the area of their games that need to get the most attention.
“I would say just execution,” Landers said. “For me, it’s just that I know where I want to put the ball so it’s just putting the ball there and execution.”
When a player reaches his fifth and final year of eligibility in university football, they almost always say how fast those five years went. Landers is no exception.
“It’s really flown by and it’s been a great experience,” he said. “I’m excited to end this on a boom. I think we have the right guys to get a Vanier Cup this year so I’m excited by that.”
As is usually the case with freshmen players, when Landers was in his first season with the team he didn’t believe the last-year players when they told him the Gryphon football experience would go by in what seemed like a heartbeat.
“I did not, but here I am saying the same thing to the rookies now. It’s going to fly by,” he said. “It’s going to fly by, but it’s been a great time. I’m happy I came out here to Guelph. It’s been awesome.”