FLORENCE – For University of North Alabama Head Football Coach Bobby Wallace, the Lions' first day of 2013 spring football drills was a stark contrast to the team's first workout a year ago.
When Wallace returned to UNA in 2012, he inherited a team with just over 20 returning lettermen and five returning starters. The Lions had so few returning linemen that the team's spring game was basically a seven-on-seven drill.
UNA returns 46 lettermen and 18 starters from its 2012 squad and the Lions put 102 players on the field Monday.
"It was windy but it looked like the players were picking up things pretty good," Wallace said. "I don't feel like we have lost anything from the end of the season. We have a good attitude and are showing a lot of enthusiasm.
Wallace said the number or returning players will be key to a successful spring.
"There are a lot more bodies and that means a lot more competition," said Wallace." That will give us competition at every position. We have the personnel to get a lot of reps, and we can go full speed, and that will allow us to evaluate the young guys. Of course we will have to be careful how we handle the players and the contact work."
Wallace the Lions are already dramatically ahead of where they were a year ago.
"Our intangibles in the program are so much stronger than they were a year ago, from our leadership and discipline to our camaraderie and our player-coach relationships," he said. "We are already so much further along than we were last year and that really helps. The players understand what the coaches want and there is a trust factor."
With 41 new freshmen in the program last season, Wallace this spring is great opportunity for those players to make major strides.
"With the players we have, half of them were still in high school this time last year," Wallace said. "Now they have a year's experience under their belts and this is a very important semester for these guys. They are physically stronger and mentally stronger and they are already so much better after their freshman season."
UNA will return to the practice field Wednesday at 3:15.