Mat drills to get started Monday

5:25 AM workouts last three weeks

February 11, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO - Following another bowl season and the signing of a strong recruiting class, Middle Tennessee football sets its sights on the 2014 campaign.

The veterans and mid-term signees have been lifting weights and conditioning since mid-January and the next step will be the annual mat drills. The 6 AM workouts, which comprise of agility and mental toughness drills, get underway Feb. 17. The team will hold the workouts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three weeks beginning at 5:25 AM with the last one scheduled for March 7.

"This is when we begin to develop the leadership of the team," said Stockstill. "It's an intense, three-week grind when you see which players will step up and lead. You have to be disciplined to take care of your body so you can compete at a high level, not only for the offseason program, but also academically."

The team will then begin spring practice on March 22 as Stockstill welcomes back 49 letterman, 13 starters, and 10 new signees. The Blue Raiders return five starters on an offense that ranked 31st nationally in rushing and 25th in third down percentage.

Defensively, Middle Tennessee has eight starters back from a unit that ranked fifth in turnovers gained and 17th in red zone defense. Linebacker T.T. Barber and safety Kevin Byard are the returning leaders of a group that continues to make plays under coordinator Tyrone Nix.

Spring practice will conclude on April 19 with the Blue-White Spring Game and the 2014 season will kick-off August 30 at home against Savannah State.

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