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Volume 68, Wednesday, August 6, 2003


Cougars begin camp, practice for 2003 season

Cougar Sports Services

Summer camp begins for 105 very important youngsters today. 

At this camp, the campers call the adults "coaches" not counselors. 

At Camp Cougar 2003, marshmallows aren't roasted, defensive backs are. 

Most scary stories are centered on injuries, not bogeymen. 

Yeah, you could say this camp is a little different. 

With new head coach Art Briles in charge, the Cougars' first practice of the 2003 season is slated for 4 p.m. today.

As the first-ever former Cougar player to run the UH football program, Briles eagerly awaits an eclectic group of returning lettermen, 2003 signees and invited walk-ons. Needless-to-say, Briles is elated this day has officially arrived.

"We are anxious to get out there (on the practice field) and see how we turn out with other people," Briles told UH Sports Information. "The thing that happens in the spring and the summer is that you spend all the time practicing against your own people. Now, we get the chance to get out there and prepare to face your opponents.

"That is what makes it fun. It is a competitive world and a competitive sport, and we're ready to get out there and compete."

Among the returnees that Briles will greet tomorrow are four members of the Conference USA Preseason All-Conference squad: tight end Stephen Cucci, center Rex Hadnot, punter Jimmy McClary and wide receiver Brandon Middleton, all seniors.

UH finished the 2003 season at 5-7 (3-5 Conference USA). Briles was hired after former head coach Dana Dimel was relieved of his duties. The Cougars return 46 lettermen, including 16 starters. 

Besides the graduations of last season's best offensive and defensive players -- running back Joffrey Reynolds and safety Hanik Milligan, the Cougars head into camp without its two starting quarterbacks from last season -- senior Nick Eddy and sophomore Barrick Nealy. 

Eddy will spend the year concentrating on his studies, while Nealy transferred to Southwest Texas State.

The Cougars will practice once a day through Sunday and will take part in two-a-days for the first time beginning Monday. Houston will open the season at home Aug. 30, when the Cougars host the Rice Owls in the Bayou Bucket.

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