Football returns to Stetson University after 56-year hiatus

Players practice for first time since 1956

DeLAND, Fla. - It's been 56 years since toe touched leather at Stetson University in DeLand, and it will be one more year before the university's new football team make it's first down.

The Central Florida school announced last year that it would revive the football program it dropped after the 1956 season. The season won't start until Fall 2013 but practices started on Wednesday.

More than 100 players ran through drills in the team's first practice on Tuesday, Head Coach Robert Hughes tells Local 6 the team is young, with most of the players in the freshmen class.

"These guys as freshmen have no upperclassmen to show hem how good they have to be, how hard they have to work, and how fast they have to play," Hughes said.

Hughes said as a result, the coaches are setting the bar high.

"They're holding you accountable to everything that you do," said sophomore Jake Paine. "Everybody has to be on time, you cant leave anything in cafeteria, you've got to be running everywhere you go."

The players come from Florida, along with 18 other states.

"Coming here is a chance to make history, so that's what I'm here for," said freshman Spencer Whittaker.

The Hatters will play in the Pioneer Football League, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision conference. Hughes said he'll take walk-ons in the fall.

The feasibility study projects that the football team will bring $67 million to the DeLand area over the next seven years.

Along with football, Stetson also added an NCAA Division I program in women's lacrosse.

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