MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3)— Fall camp has begun for the football team at Western Illinois University, and with that comes a college football tradition–media day.
On Monday, media members gathered in Western Hall to formally speak with WIU’s football coach, Jared Elliot, for the first time since the end of last season. Right out of the gate, Elliot had a smile and glowing praise for his team.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work. I walked away from this summer with the feeling we had one of our better summers in terms of commitment level and team camaraderie,” Elliot said.
That mention of camaraderie would come up repeatedly throughout the half hour press conference.
Though McGuire, Saunders, McShane and Moon have all graduated from WIU, there will be many newcomers to the team. Step ups from returning players and newcomers alike will be paramount to success, and that will be made easier by camaraderie and inclusion.
“There are no divisions and cliques…none of that. We don’t do that,” said Elliot. “Once you are a Leatherneck, you are a Leatherneck.”
The big question coming into this season is going to be the quarterback position. Sean McGuire graduated and is now playing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League. The heir apparent is Connor Sampson, who Elliot called “the best back-up quarterback in the country.” He praised Sampson for having all the physical tools, intangibles, leadership ability and the locker room respect you want in a starting QB. However, Elliot made one other thing clear besides the togetherness, and that was competition.
“No position is getting handed to anyone. We aren’t solidifying anything at any position,” said Elliot.
It seems so far that Sampson may be the favorite to take the first snap of the season on August 29th against Northern Alabama, but nothing is guaranteed.