Dion Dubose said he gets motivated for practice every day, but he admitted the adrenalin flow this week was a little stronger than normal.
The Georgia Southern senior defensive end said he and his teammates are ready to hit someone other than each other.
The Eagles will get their wish at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Paulson Stadium when they open their season against Jacksonville University.
“The adrenalin is always high for practice,” Dubose said. “But, it will be different Saturday night because we get a chance to hit someone else, and we’ll be playing in Paulson. There’s nothing like playing in Paulson.”
While the first game of the season is always special it will carry extra meaning for Dubose who will be seeing game action for the first time since suffering a leg injury against Western Carolina in the 10th game of the 2010 season.
“This will be my first action in over a year,” Dubose said. “It will have a lot of meaning to me, but to the team, too.”
Not only was it a tough injury to deal with physically, but mentally it was a difficult blow.
Dubose, a member of Chris Hatcher’s last recruiting class, was beginning to come into his own at defensive end after being moved from linebacker. He had started four games at linebacker as a true freshman, and all but one game as a sophomore.
The 28-6 win at Western Carolina assured the Eagles of a winning season, but the next week Dubose was forced to watch from the sidelines as his teammates rallied to post a come-from-behind 32-28 win at Furman.
That victory earned Georgia Southern an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs, and the Eagles surprised everyone by advancing to the semifinals.
While he missed the playoff run Dubose (6-1, 235) was also unable to play last year as he rehabbed. The Eagles not only won their first Southern Conference championship since 2004, but they again reached the FCS semis.
Like his teammates Dubose got a championship ring, but it was a hollow feeling.
Dubose, who came to Georgia Southern after a stellar career at Norcross where he had 173 tackles as a senior including 23 for a loss and six sacks, helps form one of the more formidable defensive fronts not only in the SoCon, but in FCS.
“This is the most stable we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Dubose said. “Coach (Jack) Curtis is my third defensive coordinator, but there wasn’t a big change when he came in. He had worked with Coach (Brent) Pry and he brought the same scheme.”
Joining Dubose on the front are All America Brent Russell (6-2, 300) at defensive tackle, Blake Riley (6-1, 276) at nose tackle, and Josh Gebhardt (6-2, 236) at the other defensive end.
“Me and Brent came in together,” Dubose said. “We banded together, and he helps me want to come to practice.
“I watch Russell make plays that give me goose bumps,” Dubose said. “As far as this year is concerned we have to take it one game at a time.
“We have a lot of confidence from last year, but we cannot take anyone lightly. Everyone is a great opponent.”
While last year was a difficult one as he dealt with rehab and not playing Dubose said his teammates were his primary motivation.
“It’s all family,” Dubose said. “They motivated me to get ready, and get back on the field, to be part of the family. We’ve made some big turnarounds on defense.”
Russell, of course, knew what Dubose was experiencing. He was injured the first game of his freshman season at Georgia, and wound up missing the rest of the season.