If you went to the end of the month San Jose State University football practice expecting to see the same things from the first three days of practice, you were in for a surprise.
First, there would be a coaching staff that would not stand for the status quo. Every day is a day for the 2017 Spartans to grow together, improve and develop the chemistry needed for success in practice, in games and off the field. So, to keep things fresh, practice was inverted -- team drills normally at the end were first and individual instruction came at the end of practice.
With more than 40 newcomers to a 100-plus player squad, simply getting people to learn about each other is challenging. Yet, the energy still is at a high level according to senior offensive guard Jeremiah Kolone, one of two Spartans to start in every game last year.
"His (Coach Brennan's) energy that he is bringing to the whole team is unbelievable. People are feeding off it. I'm feeding off of it. As a fifth-year senior, it's something new to me. It's awesome," says Kolone, who has 35 starts since the 2014 season. San Jose State has five returning starters in its offensive line with Kolone and Chris Gonzalez at guards, Troy Kowalski and Nate Velichko at tackles, and Rimington Trophy candidate Keoni Taylor at center.
Like the offensive line, the San Jose State defensive secondary has a core group of returning players in first-team All-Mountain West corner Andre Chachere and two-time honorable mention all-conference safety Maurice McKnight. Safety Trevon Bierria and cornerbacks Jermaine Kelly and Dakari Monroe have significant starting experience.
"We're really close. It's a brotherhood. We all played together last year. We have a good chemistry out there," says Bierria, now a sophomore after starting 10 games last season.
Despite an experienced secondary, defensive backs coach Will Harris wants to have the next group of defensive backs ready.
"In the back end, we have John Toussaint and Brandon Ezell, our juco guys, came in looking pretty good. The younger guys, as far as Tre White and Johnny Balderas, they look good. They're fluid in what they do. It's getting them up to par and to the tempo, especially with our offense. Normally, when you have freshmen come in, we can slow it down and teach it to the freshmen, but we're going so fast, people have to pick it quicker," says Harris, who spent part of his summer with the Oakland Raiders as part of the NFL's Diversity Coaching fellowship program.
San Jose State has practices the rest of the week starting at 9:00 a.m. and its first scrimmage, Saturday, August 5, at 11:00 a.m. Practices and the scrimmage are open to the public.
Season tickets can be purchased at www.sjsuspartans.com or by calling (408) 924-SJTX. The three-game mini-plan is available at bit.ly/17sjsuminiplan