Kennesaw State is experiencing the same excitement about having football on campus as East Tennessee State University.
“Obviously there have been a lot of exciting times here at this university, but this is the one we have been shooting for,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. “It’s amazing the last 2 1/2 years, how fast this has gone by. It’s really what we have been working toward, is this first game. I can’t tell you how excited our kids are.”
The first game for each program is Thursday, when the Owls come to town to face ETSU at 7:30 p.m. inside Kermit Tipton Stadium.
The game is a sellout, although 500 standing-room tickets will go on sale before an on-campus pep rally tonight.
ETSU will be playing its first game since the program was dropped in 2003.
It will be the first game ever for Kennesaw State, and Bohannon says his players are ready.
“They’re tired of practicing,” Bohannon said. “They’re tired of hitting each other and they’re ready to go play somebody else.”
Bohannon has spent 17 years coaching under option guru Paul Johnson, who went from Georgia Southern to Navy to Georgia Tech, with great success at each stop.
The Owls have an experienced quarterback in Trey White, a transfer from The Citadel. White, a junior, rush for 128 yards on 30 carries in the Owls’ spring game.
“It really is surreal that it’s finally game week,” White said. “Even though it’s game week and we say it’s here, there still is a lot of preparation and work to be done. Our goal is to be hitting on all cylinders come Thursday night.”
The Owls are more seasoned than the young Bucs, having 23 upperclassmen on the roster after targeting plenty of transfers during recruiting.
Kennesaw State running back Micah Reed is a transfer from Central Florida, where he was listed as fourth-team when he left. Reed rushed for 112 yards against Southern Methodist last season in his only extended playing time.
The Owls’ senior defensive ends come into the game with some big-time experience as well. Chaz Cheeks played in seven games for Georgia Tech last year, and Mason Harris saw limited playing time during four years at South Carolina.
Also, starting cornerback Dante Blackmon played for Appalachian State before transferring to Kennesaw State.
As has been the case around the ETSU program for the past two years, “excited” is the key word among the Owls. Everyone at Kennesaw State is downright excited.
“We’re awful excited,” Bohannon said. “I know we’ve used that word a bunch. I know I’ve said that 300 million times myself in the last 2 1/2 years, but we genuinely are and we’re ready to go play a game.
“We’ve practiced and practiced and now it’s time to go play a game and find out who we really are.”