Jermaine Robinson, left, and Mark Singer, right.
A dunk tank and a talent show are scheduled, so shouldn't these next few weeks be a breeze?
Mark Singer and Jermaine Robinson know better. If anyone at the University of Toledo can attest to the rigors of preseason football practice, it's the senior safeties. For Robinson, this marks the fourth year he'll endure a grueling August, sandwiching two daily practices around meetings and other obligations. Singer one-ups him, as an injury he suffered at the end of last preseason pushed back his senior year until now.
On Friday, those two will kick off another arduous August, joining their teammates for an 8:30 a.m. practice at the Glass Bowl -- the first of 29 leading up to the season opener at Arizona.
"I don't remember the last time I enjoyed summer," Robinson said Wednesday.
Toiling away in oppressive heat never gets easier, but at least Robinson and Singer, along with 15 other seniors, won't be surprised by what they encounter in the next month.
"You know what days are the hardest and when you have to bring it mentally and physically," Singer said.
Tethered by a bond that began in their freshman year when they temporarily shared living quarters, some might argue Singer and Robinson comprise the best safety tandem in the Mid-American Conference. If nothing else, their experience (54 combined starts) brings clarity to a group of cornerbacks that failed to distinguish themselves in the spring. With virtually every other starting job assured, the battle at corners led by projected starters Byron Best and Chris Dukes are the most intriguing in camp. Their backfield mates, Singer and Robinson, will be the same two safeties who started in the 2010 season.
Singer, who was limited in the spring while he recovered from surgery, is feeling as good as ever. He smirked when asked the last time he tackled someone, noting it probably was during a preseason scrimmage when he tore his labrum.
"We understand each other," Robinson said. "If I mess up he can get on me, and it's mature, it's mutual. I can get on him, and there's no bumping heads."
For Singer, this marks his third preseason receiving orders from a different head coach, beginning with Tom Amstutz in 2008. There's no telling how Matt Campbell's approach will differ from Tim Beckman's, or whether Campbell will follow the lead of his former boss and shack up in a dormitory with his players. One thing is expected: The return of a dunk tank. Players got the chance after a practice this spring to drop their coaches into a tub of water, with many of their fastballs hitting the mark much to the displeasure of Campbell and his assistants. A skit involving freshmen is also on the agenda.
"[Campbell] does enough where we get to let loose and have a good time," Robinson said.
Those moments, as Robinson and Singer have learned, will be the exception to a laborious month. But viewing the preseason as a necessary evil is the wrong outlook.
"If you come out and try to get better, it will fly by," Singer said. "If you come out and you're like, I have to get through this, that's when you start getting worse and it becomes a grind."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.
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