EVANSTON, Ill.--After months of anticipation and a jam-packed day of team meetings, Northwestern officially kicked off the 2012 season Monday afternoon with a 19-period practice in Evanston, taking the field as a team for the first time this year.
Thirty Wildcat freshmen endured their first collegiate practice, while veterans such as quarterback Kain Colter on offense and linebacker David Nwabuisi on defense directed their units through team and positional drills.
Monday marked NU's first on-field session outfitted entirely by Under Armour, the new jersey and equipment provider of all 19 Northwestern programs. The Wildcats maintained their tradition of providing white practice uniforms for the offense, black for the defense and purple for the quarterbacks.
Despite practicing only in helmets Monday, Northwestern still enjoyed a spirited 7-on-7 session, seeing a few darting runs by running back Treyvon Green and plenty of accurate passing by quarterbacks Colter and Trevor Siemian. NU will once again practice in helmets Tuesday before donning shoulder pads Wednesday and Thursday, eventually progressing to full pads on Friday afternoon.
The practice marked the first of six sessions Northwestern will hold on campus in Evanston before shifting camp Saturday to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wis., for the 21st consecutive season.
"They have absolutely no chance to have any idea what they're getting into. They've all stood here on the sideline and watched practice and been like, 'Oh yeah, I can do this.' And then about four or five periods into it, this little guy in their head starts talking to them, whispering bad things, and by the time period 14 or 15 rolls around, that little man's got complete and total control of every thought and action in their body. By (period) 19, they want to go home and see their moms."
-- Pat Fitzgerald, on the adjustment of a freshman to their first college practice.