TOLEDO, Ohio —
Day one of fall camp is in the books and the Toledo Rockets remain destined to fulfill their pre-season West division champion honors in the Mid-American Conference.
In the 45 minutes of practice open to the media, the intensity and energy was at full force. Only half of the team practiced this afternoon as the majority of starters took the field in the morning session.
“We are excited to be back at camp. Obviously, with day one of practice, there is a lot of emotion in there,” Candle told reporters following practice. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and emotion from the guys.”
At first glance, redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Bradley was throwing darts to his receivers, showcasing his arm strength, precision, and timing.
Bradley took the majority of the reps in the afternoon session and could push starting quarterback Mitch Guadangi to take over the reins as the team’s starting passer before the season’s end.
“Carter has done a really good job. He missed a lot of spring football and had to come back. It is hard being an outsider when you are injured,” Candle said. “He has done an awesome. He is invested and does a really good job preparing. He had a good day today.”
One of the receivers catching passes from Bradley is junior Bryce Mitchell, a Toledo native, and Bowsher alum. Mitchell played in all 13 games last season but had a limited role in the offense with only four receptions. That has the potential to change this year.
“He is a tremendous talent,” Candle said. “You need to be consistency of what a Cody Thompson is each and every day when it comes to your preparation. When you are able to do that, that gives you the ability to put up some of the statistics and numbers of some of the guys in the past have done.
“I think there is a transition and a learning curve for young players. We throw a lot at him.”
“Being detail-oriented,” Mitchell told WTOL on what kind of consistency Coach Candle needs to see. “I have to prepare every day like it is a game day and make sure I work hard.”
Mitchell is expected to play a big role this season on offense for the Rockets, as he seeks to replace Diontae Thompson and Cody Thompson who are both showing out in NFL training camps for their respective teams.
“I finally get to showcase what I learned from Dionate and Cody,” Mitchell said. “I am ready.”
Another Toledo native, Bryant Koback, is also slated to make a big leap this season at running back in his second season. Koback was named as a preseason nominee for the Doak Walker Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top running back at the conclusion of the season.
“I would love to be the guy,” Koback told Strack when asked if he wants to be the team’s primary ball carrier. “Every running back wants to be the guy.”
The Rockets did take a big blow at offensive line as starting center Bryce Harris sustained a knee injury and is out for the season, Coach Candle confirms to reporters. Harris started all 13 games last season and was named a candidate for the 2019 Rimington Award, honoring the top center in the country.
“It is a big blow for our football team,” Candle said when discussing Harris’s injury. “[He] is an extension of the coaching staff. He is one of the faces of what this team looks like.”
Practice will pick back up this weekend for the Rockets.