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  • Daniel Hooker

Catamounts Open Spring Football Practice Tuesday

Western Carolina football opens its annual spring drills on Tuesday, March 12, as the preliminary preparations for the upcoming 2024 fall season begin for the Catamounts and fourth-year head coach Kerwin Bell. Returning to campus following the University’s Spring Break, WCU opens its 15-practice non-traditional season training this week on Bob Waters Field at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.


Including the first two sessions in helmets only in compliance with the NCAA's acclimation period, WCU is slated to work out in just helmets three times this spring. The Catamounts will practice in uppers – or helmets and shoulder pads – five times with the preliminary schedule slated for seven sessions in full pads. Most weekday practices will be held in the afternoon beginning at 4 p.m., with four weekend practices including three on Saturday and one Sunday afternoon scrimmage on March 24.


WCU’s 15 spring practices culminate with the annual Spring Game slated for Saturday, April 13, with the scrimmage scheduled for a Noon start on the turf at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field. All practice dates and times are subject to change.


The Catamount offense will wear purple jerseys with the defense wearing white jerseys through spring practice. The quarterbacks – as well as those listed as limited or no contact through the spring – will mostly wear the protected red jerseys. Unless otherwise noted, each WCU spring football practice is open to the public. It is respectfully requested, though, that spectators observe from the stadium seating area and avoid being either on the field or the sidelines.


Catamount football enters its first spring under Kerwin Bell with two new coordinators and a handful of new faces on the coaching staff after the staff departures at the end of last season.


Fourth-year offensive assistant coach Rylan Wells enters his first spring as the program’s offensive coordinator, flanked by newly appointed coaches Kyle Dickey (tight ends) and Jeremy King (offensive line). Wells, a college QB under Bell at Jacksonville, will move to the quarterback room. Greg McGruder, who has spent the past couple of seasons as the offensive quality control coach, was also promoted to the wide receiver coach. Running backs coach Rudi Small returns, though assisting on special teams was added to his duties this offseason.


On defense, veteran assistant coach Jerry Odom rejoined Bell as the program’s defensive coordinator after most recently serving as the head coach at Tusculum. Odom returns a trio of assistants from last year’s staff including Brian Cochran (defensive line), Cody Edwards (linebackers), and Larry Murphy (cornerbacks), with Edwards also named special teams coordinator and Murphy joining Small as special teams assistant. Malik Goodman, who played and coached at Tusculum, joined the defensive staff as the safeties coach this offseason.


Additional staff changes in the quality control and player personnel positions that were left open by off-season departures should be final through the hiring process this week as practice commences.


Coming off last year's seven-win season – the most victories for WCU since 2017 – season tickets and season-long parking passes for Catamount Club members are on sale now both online, by phone at (828) 227-2401, and through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center. Ticket options include general admission, reserved bleacher bench, and chairback seats, with a Family Zone four-pack in Section FF. A $10 transaction fee will be charged for all season ticket orders including credit card, cash, and check. The renewal deadline for returning Catamount football season ticket holders is Saturday, June 1, 2024. Everyone is encouraged to join the Catamount Club and current Catamount Club members are also reminded to renew their memberships before the end of June. Since 2014, Western Carolina has ranked among the Top 30 in NCAA FCS football for home attendance nine times including five seasons among the Top 25. Last season, Catamount Nation led the SoCon and ranked 15th in the country with an average home attendance of 11,935 at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field. Also, for a second-straight season, WCU is coming off a record year for football season ticket sales in both tickets sold and revenue generated as the program one-upped its all-time high numbers from the 2022 season last fall.


WCU opens the 2024 season on a Thursday night (Aug. 29), visiting the state capital to face the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. The five-game home schedule opens with the first-ever meeting with instate foe Campbell on Sat., Sept. 7.


Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (, Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountsFB), and Instagram (wcu_catamounts).

 Catamount Football – Spring Practice Schedule:

Practice 1: Tuesday, March 12 – 4:00 p.m. – (helmets only)

Practice 2: Wednesday, March 13 – 4:00 p.m. – (helmets only)

Practice 3: Thursday, March 14 – 4:00 p.m. – (uppers)

Practice 4: Saturday, March 16 –  9:00 a.m. – (full pads)

Practice 5: Tuesday, March 19 – 4:00 p.m. – (full pads)

Practice 6: Thursday, March 21 – 4:00 p.m. – (uppers)

Practice 7: Sunday, March 24 – 1:00 p.m. – (full pads / scrimmage)

Practice 8: Monday, March 25 – 5:30 p.m. – (uppers)


Easter Break – March 27-29, 2024


Practice 9: Tuesday, April 2 – 4:00 p.m. – (full pads)

Practice 10: Thursday, April 4 – 4:00 p.m. – (uppers)

Practice 11: Saturday, April 6 –  9:00 a.m. – (full pads / scrimmage)

Practice 12: Tuesday, April 9 – 4:00 p.m. – (full pads)

Practice 13: Thursday, April 11 – 4:00 p.m. – (uppers)

Practice 14: Friday, April 12 – 4:00 p.m. – (helmets only)

Practice 15: Saturday, April 13 – SPRING GAME – Noon (full pads / scrimmage)


* Dates and times are subject to change


2024 Western Carolina Catamount Football Schedule:Thurs., Aug. 29 – at North Carolina State – Raleigh, N.C.Sat., Sept. 7 – vs. Campbell (White Out Whitmire) – CullowheeSat., Sept. 14 – at Elon – Elon, N.C.Sat., Sept. 21 – at Montana – Missoula, Mont.Sat., Sept. 28 – Bye WeekSat., Oct. 5 – vs. Wofford (Family Weekend) – CullowheeSat., Oct. 12 – vs. The Citadel (Heroes Day) – CullowheeSat., Oct. 19 – at Furman – Greenville, S.C.Sat., Oct. 26 – at Mercer – Macon, Ga.Sat. Nov. 2 – vs. Chattanooga (Homecoming) – CullowheeSat., Nov. 9 – at ETSU – Johnson City, Tenn.Sat., Nov. 16 – vs. VMI (Senior Day/Hall of Fame Day) – CullowheeSat., Nov. 23 – at Samford – Birmingham, Ala.Sat. Nov. 30 – NCAA FCS Playoffs – TBA

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