LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The COVID-19 pandemic did not just affect the spring sport athletes in the NCAA. The spring football season was cut short for football athletes as well.
Friday night was supposed to be the spring game for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Ja’Lynn Polk left Lufkin before the end of his senior year to join the Red Raiders after he signed with the program in December. Polk had enrolled in classes and was attending team meetings. The Red Raiders had started spring practices before the Big 12 canceled all on-campus activities.
“It felt bad a little bit because the whole point of me graduating early was to experience it,” Polk said. “I learned a lot from the spring that I had and I am not too disappointed by it because I saw what I needed to see.”
With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Polk is limited to where he can workout but he makes sure every day he is keeping up with what his coaches planned for him.
“We have some of the best trainers,” Polk said. “They give us pre-workouts, home workouts, equipment workouts, everything we need they make sure we have it."
His high school teammate Bugg Thompson is also back home in Lufkin, missing his first spring with the University of Texas. Unlike Polk, Thompson had yet to get in a spring practice before on campus activities were canceled.
“I’ve just done weight training and meetings with my coaches,” Thompson said. “I was looking forward to spring football.”
While it has been a little frustrating Thompson is staying positive knowing he has a chance to make an immediate impact whenever he is given the chance to return to Austin.
“We talk to the coaches everyday,” Thompson said. “On Tuesday and Thursdays we have team meetings. I either talk to my coach or I talk to my learning specialist. I am always in touch.”
Thompson does not see being away from campus as an extended spring break. For him it is about coming into fall camp like he never missed a day with his new team.
“This is a great opportunity because a lot of guys are not out there taking advantage of this opportunity,” Thompson said. “They are just sitting on the couch not doing anything. For me I am over here learning and working, getting better at my craft every day.”