(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Coach Jody Sears oversees a practice in preparation for the upcoming fall season.

First-year head football coach Jody Sears and the Weber State University football team are preparing to begin the 2012-13 season.

Sears was named the WSU football team interim head coach in April. His position is partially due to the departure of John L. Smith, who WSU hired to the same position in December. Smith departed after a few months at WSU to return to the University of Arkansas football staff as the new head coach.

Sears, 44, is originally from Pullman, Wash. He joined WSU’s football staff back in January, when he was hired as the team’s defensive coordinator. As head coach, Sears will continue those responsibilities and include the roles of defensive coordinator and the safeties coach as well.

When asked about his recent decision to join the WSU team, Sears said with a laugh, “Well, it was simple — I needed a job! . . . The coaching profession is not the most stable profession in the world . . .”

Sears has many years of coaching experience to give to the Wildcat football team. He has coached in different positions and capacities on several different teams, including as defensive coordinator at Washington State University from 2009 to 2012, defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington University from 2003 to 2007, and the defensive line and cornerbacks coach at Army from 2000 to 2002.

Sears grew up with football, and continued to play at the university level at Washington. It was there that his passion for coaching was born, due to coaching examples in his life.

“I’ve had some awesome coaches . . . it wasn’t probably until college that I wanted to coach,” Sears said. “I had a coach at Washington State in ’87 and ’88, and I remember sitting there, meeting him and thinking, ‘You know, I’d love to do what that guy is doing. That would be awesome!’ . . . So, that’s kind of how things started.”

Sears officially began the fall training camps with the football team at the end of July. He said he has already seen some strong points for the team.

“I would say we’ve got some veteran leadership coming back. We’ve got some seniors and juniors who have played a lot of football, so I see some maturity and some leadership.”

The Wildcats 14 of last season’s starters returning this season, and 10 Big Sky All-Conference players from last season will be returning to the roster as well.

Sears also addressed the early stage of team-building, saying some improvements to be made might appear as the season plays out.

“Some of the younger guys who haven’t played a whole lot — I still don’t really know where that’s at right now. We are kind of taking our time just to find out exactly where our weaknesses are.”

Sears said any strengths or weaknesses might reveal themselves as the Wildcats play three preseason games in September.

“Those first three non-conference games should be the telltale sign of ‘who are we?’ and ‘what we are going to be?’” he said. “. . . At the same time, we aren’t going to let those first three games define our season. We are going to take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and attack it that way.”

Two of these preseason matches will be against FBS teams. The WSU team will face California State University, Fresno in California on Sept. 1. One week later, the ‘Cats will travel to Provo for an in-state face-off against the Brigham Young University Cougars on Sept. 8. The last preseason game will be against McNeese State University in Ogden on Sept. 15.

Conference play will kick off for the Wildcats as they celebrate their homecoming game on Sept. 22 against EWU. The Wildcats’ schedule includes home conference games against California Polytechnic State University, the University of Montana and the University of Northern Colorado, and away games versus the University of California Davis, Sacramento State University, Southern Utah University and Idaho State University.

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