Moving day always puts a smile on Tarleton State head coach Cary Fowler's face.
"My boys will all be here," said Fowler Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of about 100 Texan football players reporting to campus at 9 a.m. Wednesday. "I've never been so excited about the start of a season. This is the most fun and I believe best group of young men I've ever been around."
Young is a key word in that statement, as Fowler says only 11 seniors will be on the roster. His focus on high school recruiting since being promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach before the 2010 season has generated a large group of players ranging in classification from redshirt freshman to redshirt sophomore.
"We still have a few who have been around here for quite a while, guys like (offensive tackle) Adrian Campbell and (wide receiver) Arthur Buckingham. Those guys are sixth-year seniors," Fowler said. "And there are others who were here for our playoff run in 2009, like Blair Johnson.
"But for the most part, we're very young," he added. "That's exciting for our future, but we will be short on experience this year."
For just that reason, Fowler is excited to be starting Sept. 8 and not Sept. 1.
"With so many young guys it's good to get them back on campus and acclimated to everything going on around them, not just with football, but with life away from football, especially their academics," he said. "Those are things you expect the seniors to handle, but the young guys need time to adjust, so having that extra week should benefit us."
The Sept. 8 season opener is against defending Lone Star Conference champion Midwestern State, which is ranked near the top of Division II in early preseason polls.
"Our whole schedule is like that," Fowler said. "We may play three or four teams good enough to be ranked No. 1 in any given year, maybe any given week."
The schedule includes all the traditional LSC powers such as West Texas A&M, Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville and non-conference clashes with prominent national powers North Alabama and Delta State.
"Our schedule is very tough, no doubt," Fowler said. "But when I took this job, I said two things. First, I want to start developing incoming freshmen and building this program the right way from the ground up. Second, I want to play the best and I want to beat the best."
The first preseason practice is 5:30 a.m. Friday.
"(Wednesday) we'll get him settled in here, let them handle all their housing business and eat, and we'll have meetings," Fowler said. "But come Friday morning, it's on, and I'm ready. I think if you come out and watch us practice the next couple weeks you'll see why I'm more excited about this group than any other team I've coached."
-Ex-Jackets dot roster
Four ex-Stephenville High School standouts will dot Tarleton's roster. Offensive linemen Nic Perez and Kody Travis, both 2010 all-state picks, redshirted last fall and are expected to contribute, while recent SHS grads Brayden Coverdale, a safety, and Blake Barnes, a kicker, will be among the incoming freshmen.
-Texans honored for volunteerism
Fowler says the 2011-12 Texans earned the award he is most proud of in his coaching career. "Their peer organizations on campus named them the school's top volunteer organization," Fowler said. "These kids just love being involved on campus and in the community, especially if it involves kids. And it's not just one or two of them, they always show up in a big pack."
-Catch a preview of the Texans
The annual Purple-White public intrasquad scrimmage is Saturday, Aug. 25 at a time to be announced.
Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports