The Western Carolina football team officially began preparations for the 2003 season Monday, August 4, with a morning practice session for newcomers and an evening practice for the veterans. The first full squad practice was held on Wednesday, August 6.
“The players came in very excited and with the right attitude,” said head coach Kent Briggs. “I am really looking forward to getting the preseason underway after a successful spring and off-season. I am very impressed with the newcomers’ size and athletic ability. I am interested to see which newcomers will step up over the next few weeks.”
Western will only have one practice session on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with the latter being the first day in full pads. Saturday will start two-a-day sessions for the Catamounts. The team will hold three scrimmages during the preseason. The public is invited to attend the “Meet the Cats” scrimmage on August 19, starting at 7:00 pm. The public is also invited to Western’s Open House on Aug. 17 from 3:30-5:30 pm. Fans are welcome to tour WCU’s new facilities and interact with the Catamount fall sports teams.
In association with the start of the 2003 season, “Don Hansen’s National Weekly Football Gazette” released its annual preseason All-American team. Among those listed were WCU seniors Michale Spicer and Jason Whaley.
Spicer (Goldsboro, N.C./Southern Wayne HS) was tabbed first team by the publication. The 6-3, 265-pound defensive end had previously been named the Southern Conference preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches as well as “Street & Smith’s” selecting him the “top defender in the SoCon.” Spicer was a third team All-American in Hansen’s publication last season after ranking among the nation’s top 10 in both tackles for losses and sacks. His 26 TFLs in 2002 was a WCU record, while his 11 sacks was second in the SoCon and second on the WCU single-season list.
Whaley (Beulaville, N.C./East Duplin HS) made Hansen’s list as an honorable mention. The offensive lineman was named preseason first team All-SoCon by the coaches and first team preseason All-American by “Street & Smith’s”. In addition to his play on the field, Whaley is a three-time WCU Male Student-Athlete of the Year and a two-time Verizon Academic All-District III pick.