Even for the electrically-fast Talon Betts — who dazzled at Rochester with his speed and explosion for the past few seasons in blue and gold — the college game has been a huge adjustment.
The former Warriors star tailback turned preferred walk-on at Eastern Washington University started his first college-level fall camp last week, and to say the experience has been eye-opening would be an understatement.
“It’s going good,” Betts said. “It’s definitely not high school football anymore. It’s a full-time job. When those coaches were saying college is a different level, they weren’t joking.”
Though Betts worked all summer with a trainer to come in physically prepared, and studied a couple playbooks to mentally prepare for his first college camp, the speed and pace of each practice and player is much different from last fall.
“The intensity and what you have to do throughout the day is much different,” he said. “Every college practice is kind of like a high school game.”
But even outside the pace and speed with which each practice is run, and the higher-level of athletes around him, Betts said that the hardest transition has been learning new terminology and the massive playbook EWU’s offense employs.
But despite the long days and countless hours of complex installs and play designs to learn, Betts said it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience so far.
“It’s a huge family setting,” he said. “Everyone is there to better each other. It's a ‘we not me’ environment. They treat their walk-ons just like scholarship athletes. Obviously I have to work a little harder to earn that scholarship, but Eastern and all our coaches are awesome.”
Though he said he didn’t have a strong gauge of whether he’d see the field this season or if he’s in for a redshirt year, Betts said he’d do anything he could to see the field and improve his game.
A special teams standout at Rochester, Betts has returned kicks and punts in practice in between long install sessions.
“Whatever gets me on the field,” he said.
Outside of practice has been just as busy for Betts and his teammates, working through team activities, and just getting comfortable at the dorms with teammates.
Not to mention, because he’s a freshman runningback, Betts and the rest of his freshman position teammates have to carry around a weighted football everywhere they go. That includes meetings, film and the like, all with teammates trying to rip the ball out of his hands.
But Betts, like he has for the most of his high school career, is obsessed with being a better football player. It’s why, despite scholarship offers from other schools, he decided to attend Eastern and hope to earn a scholarship as a walk-on.
“I’m most looking forward to bettering myself mentally and physically,” he said. “The level of play here is insane, you have to rise to the occasion.”