Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina football opened its on-field preparations for the 2018 season on Saturday afternoon, holding its first of two helmet-only practices in the NCAA acclimation period on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.

The two-hour session featured 13 periods including position and unit drills with four team segments and three on special teams. Despite threatening skies, most of the afternoon, Saturday’s first practice was void of any precipitation as the summer temperatures heated up the turf.

“I was pleased with our first day. I thought we got a lot done – had a lot of retention and we were able to put a good bit in today for it being the first day, went out and executed pretty well,” said Speir who is entering his seventh season at the helm at WCU. “Guys were bouncing around and were excited to be out here. I thought that we practiced smart and practiced hard, and overall, it was a good day. This preseason, it’s really all about retention and consistency – consistently doing the right things and that’s when you can become great.”

Speir added, “We’ve got a lot of young guys, especially on defense. Our goal this preseason is to get them some experience. We’ve got a talented group – we’ve just got to get them the different looks, get them comfortable with the defense and playing fast where it becomes second nature. Offensively, it’s just polishing. We’ve got really good competition on offense. I thought both of our top two quarterbacks looked good today.”

Six different quarterbacks wore the protected gold adidas jerseys on Saturday including returning starter in redshirt junior Tyrie Adams who split the bulk of the team reps with redshirt freshman Will Jones. True freshmen A.J. Curry (Mt. Airy, Ga. / Habersham Central HS), Joey Curry (Murphy, N.C. / Murphy HS) and Bubba Williamson (Kershaw, S.C. / North Central HS), who was with the squad in the spring, also saw action along with returner Nolan Beasley.

Of the 106 players that reported for fall camp on Friday, only four were limited or held out of Saturday’s practice session. Senior RB Corey Holloway (upper body) continues to recover from off-season surgery and was limited to non-contact drills, while senior DB JerMichael White (lower body), sophomore WR Kenny Benton (lower body), and redshirt freshman LB Chris Campbell (lower body) were sidelined.

Highlights during Saturday’s team sessions included Tyrie Adams with a long touchdown pass to transfer wideout Nate Mullen. Adams scrambled to his right to avoid pressure from the middle, dropping the pass nearly perfectly over the shoulder of Mullen who was in heavy man-to-man coverage. Other offensive highlights included Will Jones connecting with tight ends Owen Cosenke and Austin Phillips on grabs over the middle, while junior tailback Connell Young broke a long run that was blown dead in the secondary.

Defensively, the youthful side of Catamounts saw freshman DB Ronald Kent Jr. nearly come up with an interception on an athletic pass deflection.

Practice continues on Sunday afternoon in the second helmet-only session with the team putting on shoulder pads – or shells – for Monday’s first-morning workout. All told, the Catamounts will practice 13 additional times before the opening of the fall semester with 22 remaining opportunities before the 2018 season-opener on Labor Day weekend against Newberry (Sept. 1, 6 pm).

Season tickets for all five home dates in 2018 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, by phone toll-free at (800) 34-GOWCU or locally at (828) 227-2401, or purchase tickets online at Purchasing season tickets allow fans to lock-in their seats before single-game tickets for individual home games go on sale at 9:00 am on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.


2018 Catamount Football -- Opening Week of Fall Practice Schedule:

Sunday, Aug. 5 -- Practice #2 – 3:15 - 5:15 pm (helmets only)

Monday, Aug. 6 -- Practice #3 – 9:45 - 11:45 am (shells)

Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Practice #4 – 9:45 - 11:45 am (shells)

Wednesday, Aug. 8 – Practice #5 – 9:45 – 11:45 am (full pads)

Thursday, Aug. 9 – No Practice -- Media / Team Photo Day (3:30 – 5:30 pm); Facebook LIVE with Mark Speir (6:30 – 7:30 pm)

Friday, Aug. 10 – Practice #6 – 9:45 – 11:45 am (shells)

Saturday, Aug. 11 – Practice #7 (scrimmage) – Noon – 2:00 pm (full pads)


* Practice times are subject to change


Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook ( and Twitter (@catamounts, @WCU_FB), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports). 


Important Upcoming Dates in Catamount Athletics / Catamount Football:

Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Catamount Football single-game tickets go on sale; (9:00 am)

Thursday, Aug. 9 – WCU Photo Day / Media Day (3:30 pm); Facebook LIVE with Mark Speir (6:30 pm)

Friday, Aug. 17 – Western Carolina University Freshman Move-In Day

Monday, Aug. 20 – First day of classes for the fall semester

Friday, August 31 – “The Mutt" Catamount Football Golf Classic at The Maggie Valley Club

Saturday, Sept. 1 – 2018 Catamount Football season and home-opener vs. Newberry -- Fireworks Night

Friday, Oct. 12 – 14th annual Bob Waters Memorial Golf Tournament at the Laurel Ridge Country Club

Saturday, Oct. 13 – Catamount Football vs. Chattanooga – Hall of Fame Day