MONROE — The University of Louisiana at Monroe football team officially began Year 2 under coach Todd Berry on Friday as the players reported to campus in preparation of fall camp beginning Saturday.

Players moved into their dorm rooms, went through a compliance meeting, ate a team dinner, were issued their equipment and had physicals before the coaching staff conducted the first team meeting at the end of the evening.

The Warhawks, who return 19 starters from a year ago, were picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference in the league’s preseason poll. Wide receiver Luther Ambrose, offensive lineman Ryan McCaul, defensive end Ken Dorsey and safety Darius Prelow were all named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team.

“For all the excitement of reporting, this is the most hated day for every college coach,” Berry said in a university news release. “The reality of it is, you don’t get to do anything the way the NCAA rules are set. They (the players) want to get going, talk football and do all of those kinds of things.”

The Warhawks will hit the grass practice fields at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for a two-hour workout. The first day of camp will open with conditioning tests for the returning players, offensive and defensive meetings, weights and position meetings before practice.

Berry will hold a joint practice again at 4:30 p.m. Sunday before splitting the team into two groups on Monday for four days. The varsity group will practice for two hours in the morning beginning at 9:15 and the newcomers will hit the fields for two hours beginning at 4:30 p.m. The team will converge as one unit again on Friday as they will begin two-a-day practice sessions. SLU coach likes practice

HAMMOND — The Southeastern Louisiana University football team opened its second practice of fall camp before sunrise in Strawberry Stadium on Friday, but quickly moved over to the adjacent practice fields as the Lions worked out for two hours in helmets.

The result? “An outstanding practice,” coach Mike Lucas said.

“We had a great tempo right from the beginning; our kids worked hard today” Lucas said. “I saw some young guys really take some strides. Even though it was day two (of camp), they really made some strides.”

Southeastern worked on all phases of its game with quarterbacks Brian Young, Jordan Barnett, Jeremy Meyers and Nathan Stanley getting key reps with the offense. At running back, juniors Zeke Jones, Sam Fairley and Michael Chaney along with sophomore LaTraun Weary and redshirt freshman Jordan Wells give the Lions perhaps their deepest rotation since resuming football in 2003.

Southeastern will work out in shells for the first time beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday before Lucas and selected players will participate in Media Day beginning at 1 p.m.

Demons coach encouraged

NATCHITOCHES — Early signs in preseason camp are encouraging Northwestern State offensive coordinator Todd Cooley, who is getting help from his veterans in coaching the quarterbacks.

Two days into preseason practice, with veterans and newcomers working out separately in helmets and shorts, the Demons’ coaching staff is upbeat across the board.

We’re seeing a lot of carryover from the spring, and I am really proud of our guys right now,” Cooley said.

“The quarterbacks are really handling the game well. (Returning starter) Paul Harris looks like a guy who’s going into his third year into the system. (Junior college transfer) Brad Henderson has looked real sharp. (Redshirt freshman) Don Canyon has made big improvements and really worked hard this summer to get his weight down.”

Friday morning’s session with the veterans took just a few minutes over two hours in Turpin Stadium and left Cooley pleased with the passing game.

“We threw the ball and caught the ball well today. We had a few center-quarterback exchange issues that we will work very hard to correct Saturday,” Cooley said.

“We’re much further along as an offensive unit than we were at this point last year, and that’s exciting. We need to be better and early signs are encouraging.”

Northwestern will again practice in helmets and shorts Saturday, with the veterans starting at 9:40 a.m. and the newcomers going at 4:40 in Turpin Stadium. The team won’t practice Sunday.