ETSU students are headed home for the summer, but the football team will be back soon to get ready for their first season back in the Southern Conference.

The Bucs are coming off a 2-9 season in 2015 with lessons learned that were put to use in practice in the spring as well as what is going into the coming fall 2016 season.

Head Coach Carl Torbush knew the first season back from over a decade without a football team would be a tough one. Out of the 24 starting positions on the team, 21 of those men were freshmen, two sophomores and one junior.

“What we’re trying to do right now is not just build a team,” Torbush said. “But a program for the future of this university.”

In the beginning, Torbush didn’t see a reason to bring in many junior college or transfers players, because it wouldn’t be beneficial to the team in the long run.

He recognized that the first two years are the most important for the program and had the team done well the first two, then fallen flat, nothing would have been accomplished.

After evaluating the season, it was apparent that age and maturity were needed in order to succeed, especially going into the SoCon this season.

Coach Torbush jokingly referred to this change as “leaving the minor leagues to be called up to the major leagues” but is confident that the team can do well and there is no other conference he would rather be a part of.

A contributing factor of that is going to be the support from all the Buc fans. Coach Torbush is most excited about playing in the Bristol Motor Speedway on September 17 against Western Carolina, the first home SoCon game.

During spring practice and scrimmages the Bucs were practicing and working harder, and that will feed into the summer workouts. The team needs to be together whether it be getting to know each other, lifting weights or throwing the football.

“There is a big difference in what I saw this fall and what I saw in the spring,” Torbush said. “Just in maturity, mentally and physically.”

College football is a year-round sport now and Torbush knows the team will either get behind or ahead this summer and are looking for it to be the latter. There is still talk with new recruits for the coming season as well, to add the age and depth needed on the field.

“When June shows up its time to get here and get ready to go for the next season,” Torbush said.