Chris Murray: Hendrix College Football Reboot – Players Report, Practice Begins

Chris Murray Bio
CONWAY – The players have reported and practices have begun for Hendrix College football, where the sounds of the sport are filling the campus this late-summer for the first time in 53 years.

There was just one late arrival among the 56-man roster for the Hendrix College football team, and that was expected and cleared by the staff. Otherwise, each of the first-year Warriors reported on Wednesday and began practicing Thursday, though no hitting has begun.

“It has gone well,” Hendrix College football head coach Buck Buchanan said following Friday’s practice. “We’ve had everybody here, so step one accomplished. We have everybody we expected. Shoulder pads (Saturday), then one day of full pads then an (alternating) scenario. We’ll end up with 23 or 24 practices before we play that first game. We’ll just take them one at a time.

“We have two days in and we’ve had a lot of stuff we’ve gone over. These guys soak it up like a sponge. That’s the beauty of coaching guys with high ACT scores – the ability to retain knowledge.”

With zero returning starters – or players of any kind – Hendrix is in a unique position. Most of the various teammates don’t really know each other. Fortunately, the two-week window prior to classes starting provides extra time to get accustomed.

“It’s first time away from home for a lot of people,” Buchanan said. “They’re finding their new family already. I think we have a really great group of young men that do get along. You see them bonding with each other already.”

For Seth Peters, a 5-foot-11, 183-pound quarterback from Greenbrier who figures to be the team’s starter, the first few says have been a challenging and rewarding exercise in learning the playbook.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” Peters said. “These first couple days we’ve just been trying to get to know each other and get our chemistry down. They’ve actually broken it down very well for us. Every single day we take 10 plays, we learn those and walk through them. Hopefully by the time these 25 practices are up we can have our offense installed.”

Gray Stanton, a 6-foot, 230-linebacker who prepped at Fort Smith Northside, has found the accelerated schedule of the first week to be a positive.

“I think it’s going pretty good,” Stanton said. “A lot of guys are from the South and we’re used to the same level of football. We’ve been here a few days now and have spent every moment together – breakfast, lunch, in the dorms, out here on the field – so, it’s been a pretty cool experience getting to know everyone.”

Peters was drawn to Hendrix initially by its impressive academic reputation. The addition of football just bumped the school to the top of his list.

“I’ve always been interested in Hendrix academically,” Peters said. “Throughout the season they just followed me and recruited hard. They didn’t really have to, because I was sold academically. It just depended on if I could find the right school. We know it’s new. We could use it as an excuse, or we can go out and win games.”

Stanton’s experience reveals another side to recruiting to a Division-III school, and Hendrix in particular, with the added challenge of being a fledgling program.

“I went into my senior year just expecting to play football, but I started getting some small school offers, D-II and D-III,” Stanton said. “Then Hendrix, their academics are off the charts, and the in-state tuition really helped me as well. It is a huge challenge and we’re pretty nervous, but I think if we bear down and really work as a team – we are at Hendrix – and if we put our minds to it we can do some damage this year.

“The whole starting a new program kind of sparked me to come here, and a lot of the other guys as well. So when people look back on Hendrix football, they’re going to see us as the ones who wanted to start this thing.”

In addition, the past few weeks have seen more progress to the Hendrix facilities, cosmetic touches to Young-Wise Stadium, including the Hendrix logo at midfield, as well as major construction to the Sturgis Center, the structure just north of the playing field that will house the locker rooms, weight rooms, coaches’ offices and more.

Not quite everything is expected to be completely done by the Sept. 7 kickoff with Westminster, but more work is being done every day as the Warriors are taking their first steps.

Hendrix College football Young-Wise StadiumRendering

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