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Valdosta State football players return with enhanced health and safety guidelines

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 23:35:33-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The Valdosta State football team was one of the few programs in the country to get full spring practice in and, for that, they're thankful. But it hasn't made the last few months any easier for the Blazers.

Head coach Gary Goff said he was able to return to his office this week, and July 6 the players will start reporting for voluntary workouts.

Goff said the Blazers will break into groups of 10 for workouts and the weight room will be sanitized after each workout.

Players will not be pre-tested for COVID-19, but their temperatures will be checked and they will be screened before they can enter the football facility.

Goff said they've had close to 80 players sign up for workouts. They're ready to get back to work, although they know things won't be the same.

"There's going to have to be some very strict guidelines with the program and educate them about, 'hey, you can't come back here and jump right back into college life,'" said Goff. "We have to not hang out in groups, we can't all get together and have a huge cookout or anything like that. We'll have to be smart with this and make them understand if they want to have a season, we'll have to take this very, very serious."

While the Blazers can't be in helmets or pads the NCAA is allowing Division II programs to use footballs for drills starting next week, as long as those workouts are voluntary.

Goff said their first day of true practice will be August 7.

The start of the season, playoffs and Championship games are set. While things could change, Goff is hoping everything stays on schedule.

"The uncertainty about what if this team has a few players that get sick and you get the phone call on that Wednesday or Thursday before you're supposed to play them," Goff said. "That's going to be a challenge and concerning, as far as you could go from 10 games to seven games in the blink of an eye. It's out of our control and I'm going to have to keep the team focused on, 'hey, be thankful you're playing and we have each other.' We'll handle the stuff that comes our way one day at a time."

Valdosta State is set to open the 2020 season at home against Savannah State on September 5.