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With no games in 14 months, ODU football starts spring practice

ODU football practice, August 2020
Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 02, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - The Old Dominion University football team has an opportunity to perfect the practice of practicing. After all, that's the extend of the team's activity of late.

After the Monarchs canceled their 2020 football season amid the global pandemic, it's been more than 14 months since ODU has played a game. Tuesday, the team starts spring practice in preparation for its 2021 season opener to be played Friday September 3rd at Wake Forest. When the Monarchs finally take the field in the fall, 21 months will have gone by since the last time ODU played a game.

In that span, the program hired Ricky Rahne as the second head coach in program history. Despite being on the job since December 9, 2019, Rahne has yet to coach a game. Last year's spring practice, slated to start March 17th and feature 14 practices and a spring game, was canceled March 19th due to COVID-19.

On the one-year anniversary of his hiring, Rahne told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler he believes his program will benefit from the year off.

"It helps us establish our culture and really dig in," Rahne explained. "We can go over the minute details with the players and teach technique. Hopefully, it turns out that we look back on this and we did what was best for everyone involved and what was best for the student-athletes at Old Dominion."

Rahne says 2021 spring practice, slated to feature 15 workouts according to Harry Minium of ODUSports.com, will present an open quarterback competition between the five QBs on the roster.

"I played that position," Rahne, a former QB at Cornell, noted. "Too often the starting QB job is almost gifted to guys because coaches are afraid. That position has to compete. Those guys have to earn the respect of their teammates and the coaching staff. I'm excited about that competition. Everyone is going to be battling for reps and we'll see who comes out on top. We may be able to make the determination on who the starter is at the end of the spring, but it may go into [fall] camp. I'm not going to rush the decision."

The five quarterbacks on ODU's current roster are senior Stone Smartt, junior D.J. Mack - a Norfolk native who transferred from Central Florida, redshirt freshman Hayden Wolff, freshman Dominique Anthony and freshman Reese Poffenbarger.

In all, the roster is incredibly youthful - featuring just 27 upperclassmen. Per Minium, among ODU's 88 players, 43 are freshmen or redshirt freshmen and 18 are sophomores or redshirt sophomores.

The Monarchs' 2021 spring practice is set to conclude with the spring game Saturday April 3rd.