To drive home the point that the offseason really isn’t one, Coach Mendenhall wanted to make one final point. So he did.
When the last day of practice was all but over, Mendenhall made the defense stay a little longer and run pursuit drills over and over again. Then when they thought they were done, he made them do it all over again. It was the last hurrah, a reminder of sorts that he expected no less when the players take it upon themselves to maintain the culture over summer.
“It was good,” said Van Noy. “I liked how Coach Mendenhall ended [spring camp] by making a statement for running out and he demands a lot out of us.
“He was making a statement for the summer and spring to make it hard on us, so it’s good and guys were flying around and learning the system that are young. The more experience they get and the more they hang around the older guys, the more camaraderie we’ll have and the better we’ll be in the end.”
Once it’s at full strength, the defense that Coach Mendenhall will field this upcoming season will be one of the more talented and experienced he’s had in a while. With so many injuries, a number of younger players got more experience this spring than they otherwise would have.
“One of the best things that can happen is the younger guys getting better, and the older guys taking leadership and getting better themselves,” said Van Noy. “So, we got better as a whole and we’re happy about it.”
Heading into fall camp, if the defensive leaders take the initiative of continuing the player-run practices, the team will be more prepared than it has been in years. Van Noy has personally seen the progress that was made with the younger players and wants to continue helping them progress over the summer.
“I just want to be around and help out as best I can,” Van Noy said. “It’s not necessarily doing anything outside the norms of playing football. It’s doing those basic things to the best of your ability. If I can help out the younger guys around me, I will. I’m willing to take a younger guy under my wing and help him if I can.”
While taking on a mentoring role, Van Noy will have some catching up to do of his own. He missed all of spring camp and will have to be physically prepared prior to fall camp.
“Physically, I just want to get in shape as best I can,” Van Noy said. “I had surgery, so I want to get myself back into shape over summer.”
Van Noy doesn’t yet know when he should be back to 100 percent.
“I can’t say right now and I don’t know the timeline,” Van Noy said. “I’m just doing physical therapy right now and that’s the next step.”
One would think that would be frustrating, but Van Noy says it isn’t.
“No, it’s part of the process. I’ve started jogging though, so slowly but surely I’ll be there and I’ll be ready for that first game.”