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Published: Friday, 12/23/2011

UT trip to D.C. will also be educational

Rockets to tour monuments, landmarks

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Rockets head football coach Matt Campbell. Rockets head football coach Matt Campbell.
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The anticipation level for its matchup against Air Force in the Military Bowl on Wednesday at RFK Stadium has hit critical mass for the University of Toledo football team.

The on-campus workouts have been completed and now it's time to really get down to the business of soaking in the bowl experience.

The Rockets are scheduled to arrive in Washington early Friday evening and will be greeted with a welcome reception at their team hotel before hitting the practice field Saturday morning.

With several sightseeing trips around the nation's capital planned for the down time between practices, film study, and team meetings, UT coach Matt Campbell hopes the Rockets' bowl experience is as educational as it is successful.

"The best thing is, we have a great opportunity for our kids to learn about history and learn about the United States," Campbell said. "We're going to have a chance to get around and sightsee a little bit. I think it'll be a great experience for our kids."

UT is scheduled to tour the Capitol and visit several D.C. monuments and landmarks during its five-night stay in Washington.

Campbell also said the Military Bowl allows the Rockets to develop a greater appreciation for "the freedoms that they have" and for those that help ensure those freedoms.

"More than anything, the game itself is [called] the Military Bowl," Campbell said. "A hundred thousand dollars of the proceeds off the top go directly to our armed forces. I think it's important for our kids to understand that right now, and the society we live in today and to appreciate what those people do for us."

Even with the recent turmoil of losing coach Tim Beckman and two assistant coaches to Illinois, the Rockets have been able to maintain their focus on the Military Bowl.

"You can't dwell on everything else that's going on around you," UT senior running back Adonis Thomas said. "You have to put blinders on and keep your vision straight, because we have to worry about this bowl game coming up.

"All of those other things can affect [your focus], but you can't let that happen."

FIRST SIGNING: Campbell announced Thursday the signing of junior college punter Brad Dunavant, who is the first official commitment for the 2012 recruiting class.

Dunavant of Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College will have sophomore eligibility next fall and be able to play immediately. He is expected to enroll at UT next month and will be eligible to participate in spring practices.

"We are very happy to add Brad to our 2012 recruiting class," Campbell said. "We feel he is a punter who can come in and help our team right away."

Last season at Trinity Valley, Dunavant averaged 38.9 yards per punt. He played his high school football at Rockwall-Heath in Rockwall, Texas.

Wednesday was the first day that junior college athletes who graduated in December were allowed to sign with Division I schools. Dunavant is expected to be the only recruit that Toledo will sign during the early signing period.

The remainder of UT's 2012 football recruiting class cannot sign until the start of regular signing period Feb. 1.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.



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