It is often said that winning comes in the offseason for many sports teams. It is the time that players build bonds with teammates and coaches and the previous seasons’ glories and failures are washed away and the team gets a clean slate.
For the Elon University football team, the offseason is a time to improve in ways that are not accessible during the season.
“Being here a year now, the players are more comfortable with the schemes in all three phases of the game,” said head coach Rich Skrosky. “As I have always said, there is no destination in improvement. We need to get better in every area and each player needs to get better every day.”
The first step in the process is recruiting.
The Phoenix has signed 19 recruits to join the 2015 season roster, four of whom have enrolled at Elon for the spring semester. Corey Joyner, Josh Ramseur and Daniel Thompson all graduated high school early to begin their Elon careers.
Theos is a running back who transferred from the Naval Academy after only one semester. Joyner and Ramseur are both wide receivers, a position that is lacking depth this offseason. Thompson is a quarterback and will be competing for a starting spot against red-shirt freshman Connor Christiansen.
Regardless of the recruits that the Elon coaching staff has brought in for next season, the Phoenix is still looking for its first Colonial Athletic Association win. The 2014 season produced only one win — against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte — in 12 contests. Although the standings and statistics don’t seem pleasing, Skrosky didn’t seem concerned with the outcome in 2014.
“I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that,” Skrosky said. “For the most part, I was relatively pleased with the effort of the team. Once the season ended, we evaluated each player in our program, gave them some feedback, then it was on the road recruiting.”
In the upcoming season, the Phoenix will face nine of its eleven scheduled opponents from last year, eight of which are CAA teams. Since it is the team’s second year under Skrosky and the coaching staff, the chemistry and familiarity with the schemes has increased for the players, which can only improve the team as a whole.
Skrosky offered tryouts to any Elon student who wanted to join the football team. This effort to improve the team was not as productive as Skrosky would have liked.
“It is something that I have done at different places during my career, and with the program being new, I thought we might draw some interest from some students,” Skrosky said, “The response was not great, and I will reevaluate whether we will do it next year.”
By putting the past behind them and strengthening the future through recruiting, the football players seem to be buying in to Skrosky’s program on their own.
“I think I am seeing more players doing things on their own than we had last year,” Skrosky said, “Off the field, we have incorporated some more leadership development sessions as we try to cultivate more leadership on the team and strive to make the players accountable to one another.”
The hard work that the Phoenix is putting in this offseason will be seen when the team starts spring practice March 30.