After smiling for the camera Friday morning at picture day, Ryan gave the Mustangs the rest of the weekend off with instruction to rest up for a grueling two-day series of running, catching, blocking, tackling and team meetings. Walker Valley will take to the practice field at 7:45 a.m. and will go home at 10:45 p.m. each night.
"We had picture day this morning and gave the guys off the rest of the weekend. Monday and Tuesday we have our two day mini camp. They will have two full days of living, breathing, sleeping and eating football," said Ryan.
"I told them it's gut check time right now. So far, we haven't been in pads and now they are going to have two days of getting after it. It's going to be grinding and grueling. We are going to find out what this team is made of."
Camp mornings will consist of defensive work before some meeting time and lunch. The afternoons will see the Mustangs back on the gridiron for special teams work. After another series of meetings and lifting, the team will head back out once again for a final round of outside work focusing on the offense.
"Absolutely they will be worn out. It's not quite ‘The Junction,’ but it's going to be close to it," Ryan said referring to the infamous Bear Bryant 1954 Texas A&M camp. "It will tell who is prepared physically and mentally. I told the guys to get ready. Take advantage of this weekend because they are getting ready to go through the toughest two days they have ever been through in their lives."
The coach also said the Mustangs' staff already has a decent idea of who wants to play football on Friday night. The camp will work to confirm their evaluations and hopefully provide some unexpected positives.
"We've got a pretty good idea already (who wants to play) just based on the things we have been doing. Even though we haven't been in pads we still have pretty physical practices. We've got a pretty good idea who the guys are that we can count on. But, there are still some question marks. That's what we want to find out, how many of these young guys are going to step up and actually be able to give us some quality reps on Friday night.”
"One of our big concerns is depth. We need to find out if we've got some guys that will step up and give us the depth we need. It's going to show the staff who we've got."
Ryan joked the staff itself will be under the same pressure the Mustangs will be.
"It's going to test the staff too because I don't know if any of them have been through it. We are going to find out what they are made of too," Ryan said with a tired laugh. "But, it's going to show the staff the guys who are here for real."
The upcoming brutal convention will hopefully, according to Ryan, help the Mustangs close in on a starting roster and let the coaches know who will be ready when Walker Valley opens against at East Ridge on Aug. 17.
After camp, the Mustangs will participate in a three-way scrimmage with Chattanooga Central and Grace Academy at Central. The following Thursday Walker Valley will take a ride to Alcoa for a practice get together with the Tornados.
"That's what the game plan is. We have a short period and we have to make the most of every minute we've got so we will be ready to go," said Ryan. "We are doing everything we can do to get our guys ready to play football."