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Published: Saturday, 8/4/2007

Falcons wide-eyed over new facilities

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN The turf is new, the headquarters is new, and the locker rooms, well, they at least smell new.

Now it s time for the Bowling Green State University football team to complete the renovation project.

Fall camp begins today for BGSU, which is coming off one of its poorest seasons in recent history. The brand new Sebo Athletic Center awaits the Falcons (4-8 in 2006) as they embark on their own construction effort.

I look at it as a motivational tool and I know a lot of other people do as well, wide receiver Freddie Barnes said yesterday during the team s media affair. You ve got the resources to go out here and be successful, so you re going to work hard and hopefully it ll turn out perfectly for us on the field.

Falcons coach Gregg Brandon said the difference between the Sebo Center and the team s previous accommodations at Doyt Perry Stadium are night and day. Included in the facility, which is located directly behind the north end zone, are improved strength and training areas and more suitable meeting and film rooms. The team s new playground has instilled a sense of professionalism that didn t exist when the Falcons were housed in rooms with water leaks and chipped paint.

Just every day, walking in here feels good, it makes us feel like a true Division I team, said defensive lineman Diyral Briggs.

No one, perhaps, is more excited about BGSU s new home than Brandon, who defied yesterday s planned schedule by conducting his press conference in a second floor meeting room rather than on the field.

I d be hard-pressed to find a better facility than the Sebo Center in our league, said Brandon, who begins his fifth season as head coach. At this level you have to provide the best teaching tools whether it s a classroom learning environment like we have here or adequate space to get done what you need to get done to win at this level. Those are things that every Division I program needs to compete today because everybody s getting them and if you re not you re falling behind.

A soon to be completed players lounge, armed with TVs, couches and video games, will be an area of repose for the Falcons during camp, particularly during downtime between two-a-day practices.

Guys will just be able to hang out and hang together which we didn t have in the past, said offensive lineman Kevin Huelsman. We ll be together more, we ll learn more about each other rather than guys going home, going their separate ways.

Brandon unveiled the center to his team in May by first having them gather at the team s meeting room at Doyt Perry Stadium. Collectively they walked over to the new building and the players were wide eyed.

He was just showing us a work in progress, how we re a work in progress as a team and as a program, Barnes said. Everything is now coming together, so it s our turn as a program to come together.

RACE IS ON: Although the battle at quarterback between Tyler Sheehan and Anthony Turner will be camp s hottest issue, there are several other starting positions that will be determined in the next few weeks leading up to BG s first game at Minnesota on Sept. 1. Loren Hargrove, atop the depth chart at weakside linebacker, will compete with returning starter John Haneline, and the two interior defensive line spots will be fought over by Michael Ream, Nick Davis, D.J. Young and Sean O Drobinak, who has moved over from tight tend. The running back battle between Chris Bullock and junior college transfer Eric Ransom may go to Bullock by default as Ransom is nursing a hamstring injury.

I have a chance to start but this hamstring is going to have an effect on me coming to camp, but as soon as it heals I ll be out there ready to go, Ransom said. The best man will get the spot.

BIRD THE WORD: Prior to spring practice Brandon said he would delegate special teams duties to several members of his staff but has since given full duties to first-year coach Stephen Bird, who will also coach outside receivers.

I wanted to find somebody that had a passion for the kicking game, who really just loved to coach that aspect of football, and Steve Bird really jumped out after a couple weeks [in spring practice], Brandon said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com



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