Leadership Council Luncheon Signals Open to Fall Camp
Go Tigers!
Go Tigers!

Go Tigers!

Aug. 3, 2014

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Sunday marked the open to camp for the University of Memphis football squad as nine members of the team's Leadership Council were on hand for the third annual luncheon that doubles as media day.

Designed by head coach Justin Fuente, the Leadership Council features select players as a conduit between the coaching staff and the team. This season, all 22 seniors are represented on the Leadership Council.

Players on hand for the Leadership Council Luncheon on Sunday included; RB Brandon Hayes, WR Keiwone Malone, OL Al Bond, OL Nykiren Wellington, DE Martin Ifedi, DL Terry Redden, LB Ryan Coleman, LB Charles Harris and CB Bobby McCain.

Memphis is scheduled to go through 24 practices during camp wrapping up with Fan Fest on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Members of Memphis' official booster group for football, the Highland Hundred, will have an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the team on Monday as guests of the program for the first workout on Monday. The general public is invited to attend next Tuesday's practice.

Both Monday and Tuesday's practices are slated for a 4:30 p.m. start with periods for stretch preceding. Both practices will take play at the Murphy Complex which is located near the intersection of Park and Getwell.

Memphis has six home games this season including four league games as it begins its second season as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Season and single-game tickets, a Pick-3 Package and group tickets are now on sale.  For more information about individual game or ticket packages, visit www.gotigersgo.com/tickets or call (901) 678-2331.

Below are select quotes from head coach Justin Fuente and some of the players on hand.

Opening Statement

"Before I begin, I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank our new president, Dr. David Rudd. As we start in to the new season and school year, his vision and guidance as we build our program is appreciated. Also I have to thank our athletic director, Tom Bowen, for his toughness and willingness to fight the good fight as we move forward building this program."

"The 2014 season is here. We've got an incredible challenge in front of us. We've got an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule paired with continuing to play in the American Athletic Conference. Certainly, this schedule is on par with a lot of people across the nation. It's certainly a leap forward for a program in our stage right now, but one we welcome and one we know will pay dividends for us in the future. We're attempting to bite off a lot and we are excited about that."

"I think the thing that's got me most excited is we have the senior leadership to do it. We have many guys returning. You'll see us refer to them as the Leadership Council, which will be made up of the entire senior class this year. It's the first time since we've been here that I feel like we have the numbers of seniors, 13 scholarship seniors on defense and seven scholarship seniors on offense, to really truly lead the team in this manner. We've basically anointed the entire senior class and put quite a bit on their shoulders, but I think they have welcomed it with open arms. They've certainly done that in the offseason through spring practice, through the summer and headed into two-a-days."

"We have a defense that is excited to build on what they started last year. I don't think they are satisfied with the way they finished. I think they are anxious to go prove they can play fantastic defense. We've got an offense with many experienced young people, which is kind of an interesting term, but we've got great leadership from our seniors combined with younger guys who have played quite a bit. We are anxious to build upon what we have started."

"We've got great competition at a lot of spots and I'm anxious to get this thing rolling. I've been asked several times about our marketing campaign, `Wait Til This Year'. Obviously, that was done with our approval. The thing I want to draw your attention to is the `wait til this year', not the wait until the second game or the fourth game or the third game, but let's give these guys a fantastic opportunity to prove how good of team they have over the course of the season."

On scholarship numbers ...

"We were at 50 when we started and much has been made from those things. We haven't hid from those things our entire time here, but we've made strides in building it back up. We won't quite be at the full allocation of 85, but we will be much closer to 85 than 50. That was a rough deal because four of those guys were kickers or specialists. So now you are talking about 46 and some of those guys didn't want to stay and work like the guys we have here. It's been quite a building project, but I'm really proud of the guys we have here now ready to represent the university."

You mentioned numbers coming back, how much confidence does that give you going into season?

"Well I think it's an overall understanding of what is expected first and foremost. These guys, by and large, know where to be and when to be there and how to be prepared. That's a big thing. Having played against some fantastic people in some hostile environments is going to bode well for us going into the season. We've got guys who have played in games, in competitive games, that they desperately wanted to come out victorious in. Obviously, it's a lot better than the alternative."

Does it feel like for the first time that this is your team?

"Well, some of the guys were our guys. I'm awfully proud of the guys who have been here through the entire deal. It is not my team, it is their team. That's the thing I'm trying to get through to them. They are part of their ownership of what we do. Obviously, I'm the head coach and have those duties and responsibilities, but a truly successful team or unit is owned by the people in it. I think they are starting to see that and I am encouraged by things I'm starting to see away from the field. We still have strides to make, but in order to hold each other accountable, it is much more effective than somebody else doing it."

Senior WR Keiwone Malone on excitement to get camp started and expectations for the offense

"I'm excited to get started with camp and see where we are as an offense. Coach (Fuente) has a lot of things in the playbook for us to dig out so I'm excited to see where we are. As a group, we have bonded and we are ready to lead as a senior class and show the younger guys the way to go."

Senior DE Martin Ifedi on his preseason awards and expectations for the defense

"Without my teammates and the guys next to me there is no way that I could've been able to do it. I use it for motivation and start thinking about it when times get hard. The team needs me, but I also need them."

"This defense can definitely be the No. 1 defense in the nation if we come in and perform week in and week out. Our chemistry and how we understand each other is what makes me believe that. We know where we are supposed to be and we study our opponents to know what is coming before it comes."

"We have to make the most of the early practices and make sure we practice smart when we get to full pads."

Senior OL Al Bond on the offensive line chemistry and how the offseason prepared the group

"Our chemistry is going to be great this season up front. I look forward to the level of competition throughout fall camp. We have a lot of younger guys stepping up and we are finally to the point where we have a lot of depth at every position along the offensive line. It's going to be really competitive."

"We had a better spring and made a lot of improvements. We battled a lot of injuries, but having everybody back and ready to go is a key for us."

"It's great to have a quarterback with a year of experience under his belt. I think that experience will be great for us on the offensive line because it gives him more confidence in us and also gives us more confidence in him."

Senior LB Charles Harris on strides made in his four year career and if this is the year for bowl game

"We have made so many strides since I first got here as a freshman. We continue to make strides daily, but for our hard work to pay off we have to focus on the small things we know will instill victory for us. We have to keep doing what we know we have to do on and off the field to ensure victories."

"This is the year, I believe, not only because it is my senior year, but because of the senior class we have. It's been such a drastic change since Coach Fuente brought his staff here because every year we have made gradual progress. Without a doubt, this is the year we have to get the job done."

Senior RB Brandon Hayes on getting back to practice and motivation to have winning season

"It's a great feeling to go out there and put the uniform back on. The acclimation period will be a bit boring, but getting back in the swing of things, getting calls and signals will be great. I'm looking forward to seeing the younger guys come in and see what they can bring to this team."

"It definitely motivates me and the team. This year we have to finish the job. We have all the pieces, but we have to go out there and do it."



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