FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Anticipation for the start of this college football season is certainly building around the Fairmont State campus.
Former Fairmont Senior state champ, Connor Neal, is competing for the starting quarterback spot.
“It’s been a great feeling just getting back as a group, and working together, and trying to get better each and every day,” said Neal following practice on Wednesday.
Fairmont State began preseason practices this week, and is looking forward to ending an 18-month drought between games.
The Fighting Falcons, believe it or not, haven’t played a regulation football game since November of 2019. The pandemic wiped out the MEC season last year, and lingering effects from it didn’t allow the Fighting Falcons to play this spring.
Asked what Neal’s been focusing on in the offseason, and during the preseason, he said, “Big emphasis for me is foot work, and trying to get my timing back with my receivers after being off for so long.”
Fairmont State was able to get a few practices in during the spring season, though they weren’t able to compete against an MEC opponent.
That meant limited reps for Neal and the other quarterbacks, who are looking to build chemistry with their receivers.
“It’s a little difficult, but once you get out there and start throwing again, it comes back pretty quickly, and then everything goes smoother,” said former Polar Bear.
Fairmont State not getting to play in either the fall or spring, while other teams around the MEC and the country did, means they’re hungry to return to the field.
“Definitely not a lot of need for motivation,” said Neal. “Seeing all of those other teams get to play and win games, and play every week, while we were sitting here just practicing and trying to get better on our own was pretty hard to watch.”
Neal is one of five quarterbacks listed on the Fairmont State roster, and is the only one with more than a season’s worth of knowledge of Jason Woodman’s system. Neal has been with the Fighting Falcons since 2019.
He redshirted that season, and entered 2020 as a redshirt freshman, but still retains all of his years of eligibility.
Fairmont State has yet to name starters for its first game of the season.
The Fighting Falcons will begin the season at home on Thursday, Sept. 2 against California (PA).