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August 4, 2012There is no way to hear the players for the North Carolina football talk about the start of practice and a new season and not believe their enthusiasm is anything but sincere.
To a man, this group of players are excited about being in camp, excited to get to work on a new season and excited to continue learning and executing the new schemes on both sides of the ball.
"We loved the summer," said senior linebacker/defensive back Gene Robinson. "It was the hardest summer we have had here. We worked all summer long. It only got harder every day. And we loved that, to come together as a team.
"We had more team bonding during the workouts because they were so difficult. Everybody had to overcome them. There was no, 'I'm not going to be able to do this.' No, you have to.
"Now we are just thriving out there every day, continuing to be together."
But all that has come before now only led up to Friday's start of practice. The excitement is greater than ever because now the sense of a fresh start and a season to play is here. The players can feel it now.
"It was a blast to get out there [on Friday]," junior quarterback Bryn Renner said. "Spring was a little teaser, but we wanted to get started in fall camp.
"The first day was like Christmas. We were so happy to get on the field. Coach [Larry] Fedora has done a great job of telling us what we need to do to get better."
Renner said there is no doubt in his mind that this entire team is united in the drive to be as good as it can and execute the schemes Fedora and his staff have brought to UNC.
"All 105 guys that are here are onboard to win 12 ball games this year," Renner said.
What speaks even louder than the words the players have for the season and the new staff are the actions they have shown. This is their true testament to how much they are throwing their hearts and souls into following Fedora and this staff in a new direction, on and off the field.
"We challenged them, where we left off in the spring, to see how far they could go the rest of spring and through the summer," Fedora said. "All the coaches are really pleased with their recall and how much more they have picked up.
"You just watch them in the drills," Fedora said, "how they do the drills, they are so much further along than they were in the spring. It's been really nice. That has been one of the easiest things. They have bought in from day one. They have had this sense of excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness to get going. In each phase, they have shown they are willing to do whatever we ask them to do."
Another telling point is the players met the goals placed before them as to losing weight, gaining strength and being in the best possible shape. Fedora said that speaks volumes about the commitment this team has genuinely made.
"You have guys like [Travis] Bond, who has lost a tremendous amount of weight," Fedora said. "Every one of the guys our nutritionist decided needed to lose weight did what they needed to do.
"I don't know how many of you have tried to lose some weight. You have to decide you're going to do it. It can't be because a coach says you need to lose weight. If they don't decide to do it, they are not going to lose weight.
"That just tells me that much more about how much they have bought in. It doesn't just happen. It doesn't just melt off. There is some sacrifice. They have to eat right and do things the right way, which these guys have done. I'm proud of them."