Hotshots fired up: Arizona brings high energy to Day 1
SAN ANTONIO — A day after serving notice to The Alliance that they are going to be heard, the Arizona Hotshots brought the same energy to their first day of training camp practice.
The Hotshots set that tone Friday night, when Alliance head of football development Hines Ward gave a shoutout to each team at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in downtown San Antonio. After a couple of teams attempted to make some noise, it was the Hotshots’ turn. And they didn’t disappoint, as Hotshots players leaped to their feet for what is becoming their calling card.
“I’ve got to salute these kids. They are as energetic as any group that I can recall,” Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “They want to be here, and when you have that, it inspires everybody. Everybody is looking forward to the next meeting, the next practice, the opportunity to be together.”
Players bounded down the steps and onto the field at Southwest High School, raring to go. “It’s a great day to be alive and be a Hotshot,” said tight end Joseph Fauria through his helmet mask.
Former Nebraska defensive back Kieron Williams, excited for his first professional training camp after a sleepless Friday night, barked as he reached the defense’s side of the field. And then, practice began.
Drills were intense, especially when the wide receivers and defensive backs went against each other.
The defensive backs had their moments, but there were some impressive catches from receivers. Richard Mullaney leaped over two defenders along the sideline for a catch, staying inbounds. Tight end Connor Hamlett’s one-handed catch was arguably the play of the day on offense.
“It seems like everybody wants to be here,” said former Arizona State receiver Rashad Ross. “When I was in the NFL, the older guys were dreading training camp. Over here, it seems like everybody wants to get better. So this is like a happy place.”
Any trash talk from receivers and defensive backs wasn’t malicious and wasn’t addressed by any coaches.
“That’s why I love my teammates,” Ross said. “Everybody out here is confident.”
Williams called it a “blessing” to be on the field playing football and said the chirping was “all in good fun.”
Alliance co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol, attending his first training camp practice, chose the Hotshots workout, watching from the sideline.
“He low-key wants to be a Hotshot,” Williams said. “He just can’t wear the gear. But it’s all good, we’ll ship him some.”
NOTES: Neuheisel said with so much play-calling experience and trust among his offensive assistant coaches, he isn’t in a rush to name an offensive coordinator. The spot is vacant for now. … The Hotshots have yet to sign a kicker and punter, but elected to fill those spots with position players that coaches can observe for at least the first couple of weeks of camp until such specialists are needed. … Neuheisel said the first three days of camp will be to assess what his players’ skill sets are and where they can best be used on the field. The first practice in pads could come as soon as next Wednesday.