Current players are excited. Former players are excited. Coaches are excited.
If playing San Diego weren't enough to get the JU football team revved up, this year's season opener (Saturday, 1 p.m.) has the added spice of the first game to be played at the newly renovated D.B. Milne Field.
The significance of the event isn't lost on those involved, especially the players who have had a front row seat to the renovation.
"The kids are really excited,'' head coach Kerwin Bell said. "Since camp started, they have watched the construction and as it got closer to completion you could see their excitement grow. It's great for the kids, the players, the students and the parents.''
The renovated complex features a new six-figure scoreboard that includes a 25' by 13' video screen which will completely revolutionize the viewer experience; a 2,900-seat grandstand, a state-of-the-art press box building along with the new concessions and restroom facilities. Lights and a new scoreboard are also part of the enhancements.
Linebacker Jordan Dewhirst, who is a rare sixth-year senior, concurs and remembers to the last decade when he was recruited.
"When I got recruited they showed me the original plan,'' Dewhirst, of Fort White, Fla., said. "It's cool that it has finally come through.''
Dewhirst said his sense is that the school's student body is happy to have a complex of which to proud, even if they don't realize that any San Diego game (they are preseason Pioneer Football League favorites) is a big game for the Dolphins.
"Kids who don't even know the parameters of us and San Diego say they will be at the game because of the new stadium,'' he said.
Former JU star Rudell Small, the greatest running back (4,073 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns) in Dolphins' history, was here for the "old'' D. B. Milne Field and is here as a graduate assistant for the "new.''
"I definitely enjoy seeing it,'' Small said. "It helps change the culture here. To see a new stadium with lights, a Jumbotron scoreboard and everything else is really special.''
Small who graduated in June 2011, said he wasn't too affected by the "old'' complex.
"I was just excited to play college ball,'' he said. "The new stadium would have been nice, but it wasn't my first priority.''