LUBBOCK, Texas — The University of Central Arkansas’ Joe Carmical will begin his final season back where he started his college career.
An all-state quarterback who led Monticello to a state title, Carmical was one of Tom Tuberville’s recruits at Texas Tech. He transferred to UCA after a year.
Saturday, he’ll be back in Jones AT&T Stadium on the opposite sideline when the Bears take on the Red Raiders.
“It’s weird. Usually you are going into strange stadiums when you play a team at this level and I’ve been here before,” he said, noting that only the large video screen in the end zone has changed.
“I didn’t have any hard feelings when I left, but I was not planning to come back,” he said. “But that’s OK. I don’t mind. This is a beautiful place. I met a lot of good people here, especially at the Wesley Foundation.”
But he knows what it’s like in the totally enclosed stadium — with masked man on horseback riding along the sideline.
“Actually, I like any situation that everybody is against you,” he said.
“It’s a fun challenge.”
Carmical, a tight end, has graduated with a degree in accounting and is pursuing an MBA with the possibility of law school. He has a 4.0 average, has never made a B at UCA.
And he’s embracing his senior season that promises more playing time.
“I enjoy coach (Steve) Campbell’s offense,” he said. “It’s a fun offense.
And coach (offensive coordinator Nathan) has a great offensive mind. Combine the two and it’s something special.”
Overall chemistry is also special.
“I’m excited about what is going on,” he said. “I’ve never been on a team with this much comraderie. We come early to practice just to hang out with each other in the locker room. We’ve had teams that have had good chemistry.
But this group of seniors has been really close since we came in as freshmen.”
The Bears dwent through a walk-through at the stadium Friday afternoon. Just 24 hours before, the artificial surface was flooded. The rains came in some heavily during a short period that the pumping system couldn’t remove the water fast enough.
In 30 minutes, there were 1,100 lightning strikes within eight miles of the stadium.
COINCIDENTAL FLIGHT PLANS
The charter aircraft carrying the UCA team into Lubbock left soon after dropping off the UCA party. Next stop was Nacogdoches,Texas, to transport the Stephen F. Austin team to Manhatten, Kan., for a game Saturday against Kansas State.
The coach at SFA is Clint Conque. So the plane took his old team to the game site, then made a swing to take his new team to Kansas.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 5010-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd)