CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New conference, new coaching staff, new scoreboard, new helmets - it's clear that West Virginia State is attempting to turn the page on a pretty dismal era of its football history.
The Yellow Jackets have gone 6-35 the last four years, including 4-28 in West Virginia Conference play.
But new head coach Jon Anderson and many of his young players weren't a part of those losses, and said there is nothing but excitement surrounding the program as camp continues into its second week.
"Everything is new and exciting," Anderson said. "We get a chance to really lay a foundation and we started doing it last spring. We have a chance to do it in the regular season this fall in a new conference that we're still learning about.
"The fact that we have new schemes and new coaches - it just shows that great things are going on here at West Virginia State."
Whether those great things lead to more great things on the field is yet to be seen, but Anderson said some of his few returnees are shining in practice.
Running back LeFloyd Phillips was the first name out of Anderson's mouth.
"Not too many of those guys made it all the way through and now he's set to graduate," Anderson said of the fifth-year senior. "He's a good running back. He's solid, he has good speed, and he's been consistently taking care of business on and off the field since we got here."
Anderson certainly brings the credentials to signal a possible turnaround is in the works as the Jackets and other WVC schools move to the Mountain East Conference.
As a coordinator at the University of Sioux Falls, Anderson helped the team win NAIA national titles in 2006, 2008, and 2009, rolling up 135 wins against just 26 losses in his time there.
It's hard to argue with that kind of success, so the transition was pretty smooth when it came time for Anderson to implement his own coaching style and methods of practice.
"The kids have done an outstanding job of buying in," Anderson said. "All the kids we inherited all winter and spring and were here this summer have done a great job. They understand what our expectations are and they're helping us teach the incoming kids.
"Guys have taken hold to how we will practice. We have up-tempo practices, but we protect each other as well. It's a competitive, intense atmosphere when we're getting after it, but they understand we've got to take care of each other because, come game time, we're the only ones we have."
Kirkland starts 3rd year at UC