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Jones College head coach Steve Buckley signals a play.

ELLISVILLE – The Jones College Bobcats did something Monday afternoon they were not able to do in 2020 – they held an actual spring football practice.

Sixth-year head coach Steve Buckley said this is a critical time for the Bobcat football program.

“We’ve had a great offseason so far,” he said. “Now, we are going into spring ball and, basically, watch these kids develop. We got in late last year and we played five ballgames. It was what it was.

“This is the most important semester of these kids’ careers right now.”

Buckley said missing spring practice last year hurt college football teams across the country.

“These kids have never been through a spring,” he said. “Obviously, we got interrupted last year because of COVID. The spring semester last year was cut short. I think this (spring football) is just a key to their developmental process athletically. We lost all of our strength and conditioning part of our program in March, April, May, June and July last year.”

Buckley will have a much larger group of players to work with than usual this spring as 51 players are participating in practice.

“We have a larger number out than we normally do for spring,” he said. “At the same time, we are short at defensive end and with offensive linemen until the freshmen get here in the summer. So, we have to be smart as far as how we practice as far as reps are concerned. We are going to try and have a full-blown spring and see what we can accomplish.”

The Bobcats have 12 practices scheduled and are expected to conclude workouts on April 15.

“We are going to go 12 days,” Buckley said. “We don’t ever use our full allotment of days. We will go Monday through Thursday for three weeks. One of those days (each week) will be used as a group offensively and defensively. We won’t compete against each other one day a week. It will mainly be film, walk-throughs, corrections and installations.”

At the conclusion of spring practice, players will continue with their offseason conditioning program up until May 21, the day before graduation. The entire Bobcat squad, including returnees and incoming freshmen, will report for summer school, beginning July 12.

“We will be here through May 21 and then they will have a seven-week break when they go home,” Buckley said. “We just have to trust them to continue to develop in the weight room and conditioning-wise because everything happens fast in July and August. It will be game time before you turn around.”

The 2021 Jones College football schedule has not been released.

The Bobcats were 3-2 in an abbreviated 2020 football season.