Iowa State opened its 2012 pre-season football camp on a sweltering Friday afternoon in Ames. It was a predictably ragged first day without pads - helmets only - as the Cyclones worked out for just over two hours on the practice fields east of Jack Trice Stadium.
Even though the workout included a high number of mental and physical miscues, there were bright spots as well. And head coach Paul Rhoads said he was not concerned about issues he saw as the team practiced for the first time since the spring game in April.
"There's not a first day of training camp that's not rusty and ragged and sloppy and this fulfilled all of those traits," Rhoads said. "It's been since the middle of April since we coached them in the game of football. They've ran and lifted and all that, but they haven't been coached playing the game of football for a long time. To come out here and not be very clean is expected.
"We jumped off sides or false started on both sides of the ball and we didn't catch the ball well, didn't throw the ball particularly well," he added. "But nothing to be alarmed about. The kids were trying to work through it. You're far from being in football shape at this point. As long as they understand all of those things, we'll be fine."
Even with the execution lacking, Rhoads said he had no complaints about the spirit of his 105-man roster in the first practice of the fall.
"There's plenty of energy around these kids, and desire and intent," said Rhoads. "There's no problem there. It's just a matter of getting back to understanding what roles and responsibilities are and what a cadence is, playing with knee bends and so forth."
Rhoads saw the return of running back Shontrelle Johnson to the practice field for the first time since last fall and Johnson had the electrifying play of the day, breaking lose on a long run and going untouched all the way to the end zone. And considering the Cyclones were playing two-hand touch on the non-contact day, that made his elusiveness all that more impressive.
Jerome Tiller overcame a dropped ball to make a couple of the most impressive catches on the day. Tiller batted a hot curl pass up in the air and then caught it on his way to the turf, showing great concentration. He also dragged his feet in bounds on a diving sideline catch.
Defensively, cornerback Sam Richardson made one of the top plays of the day, stripping the ball away from Tiller on what looked like a sure completion on a crossing route. Walk-on safety Gage Shaeffer made the "did you see that?" catch of the day, sprawling to snag an errant pass just an inch or so off the practice field grass.
Friday's practice was the first and only session open to the media. All future practices will be on lockdown - closed to reporters and cameras - except for Iowa State's own in-house coverage. Pre-season camp continues on Saturday, but there will be no interviews all weekend.