After two practices on Fort Drum Tuesday, the Syracuse Orange got the chance to take a little break from football Wednesday and get a small taste of military life. Everything from Army physical training to an up-close look at some serious machinery and weapons. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the team worked hard and had a lot of fun, but also learned a valuable lesson or two.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- For a defensive unit that has spent the last three days going full force at practice, Wednesday was a lot of fun.
The team taking a break from the x's and o's to get a taste of the military experience. A gauntlet of different chances, very similar to what you'd see soldiers doing during physical training. A chance for the players to work on things that can translate to the field.
One exercise had the guys having to pass giant logs over giant tires, while standing on car tires.
"It was fun, but it was also work," junior nose tackle Zion Jones said. "There's a lot of mental and physical toughness you have to obtain."
Another saw them load up two giant tires with full backpacks and have to roll them to a finish line. Trick being the tires had to be touching at all times.
"Communication is key and being vocal," freshman defensive end John Raymon said. "You can't do anything but be positive and never look back.
"John Raymon, me and him were the captains," junior defensive tackle Davon Walls added. "We had three of the smaller guys on our team, the kickers, and we actually set a lot of records."
"They did great," 1st Lt. Alejandro Villanueva, the soldier who helped create the training exercises, said. "They had a great attitude. They were very nice to my soldiers and they tried their best and it showed."
While the defense was going through that physical training, the offense was on a different part of Fort Drum learning all about weapon systems and talking with them. Boy did they have a blast.
"This is like a really cool experience going inside with the simulations and seeing the actual weapons that the Army uses," junior offensive tackle Sean Hickey said. "It's a really neat experience.
The offense getting to load mortars and check out sniper rifles, even get into and start the humvees.
"I've never really seen those weapons before," junior running back Prince-Tyson Gulley said. "It was good to be able to learn some things about them and meet the people that use them on a daily basis."
And those soldiers also got to switch roles for a bit Wednesday, getting the usual player treatment of doing interviews with TV and local radio.
The team will hit the field hard Thursday for some more practicing before getting another taste of the Army Friday, with a paintball battle.