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The Three Amigos. Three all-beef patties. The Three Musketeers. The Three Little Pigs. The Three Bears. The three former football Commanders.
Such is the life for Shane Bueter, Stewart Jones and Ethan Devine as they try to fit in for The Fighting Tigers at Campbellsville University.
Not much else finds common ground as easily as the two words that all three share — red shirt.
Bueter, a red-shirt freshman, is getting some varsity minutes. Stewart and Devine, also red shirts, are relegated to practice only and the scout team.
But you wouldn't know it by their demeanor.
“It makes me feel good knowing that I go against the first-team offensive line in practice every day and help make them better,” said Devine.
“It was a bit of a shock finding out that I'm not the strongest one on the team any more,” said Devine as he got ready to close out one of the team's final practice sessions last week.
Campbellsville has found a resurgence in its football program since Coach Perry Thomas arrived on the scene two years ago. The Tigers have improved from a 3-8 campaign in Thomas' first year, to 7-4 in his second season.
“We had some guys (last year) who were ineligible,” said Bueter. “Now we've come together.”
Bueter suffered a torn ACL four games into his senior season at Washington County, and the red shirt year was actually a blessing.
“It gave me a chance to strengthen my knee.”
But Bueter, who has found spot duty at running back, isn't unlike any other player. Sure, he'd like to play more, but relishes his role in helping the team succeed.
When Campbellsville's top two running backs were injured, Bueter's blue-collar play helped the Tigers upset then-No. 10 Shorter College.
The year off, according to Bueter, gave him an opportunity to become more familiar with the offense.
His fellow Washington Countians are also accepting the educational aspect of their first year in college pads.
Jones, who would like to become a physical therapist, said the extra year “gives me an opportunity to learn what I need to on the field and in the classroom.”
“It's just been great,” said Jones. “It's just like home. The coaches get to know you and take you in just like your family would.”
Devine is pursuing a similar academic interest — physical therapy — which he might need by playing nose guard against the first-team offense each day in practice.
Devine scoffs at that, saying he knows he has a lot to learn and is willing to wait his turn.
The three have been going at it since the middle of August when CU started fall workouts.
“It seems like the wait is forever for that first game,” Bueter offered. “But once it finally does get here, it goes by so fast.”
Speaking of fast, Jones claims only to be blessed with “average” speed, but certainly good enough to outpace his teammate Bueter.
“You might not want to print that,” Bueter said with a smile.
Bueter began as a biology major, but now says he's undecided on his major right now.
What he isn't unsure of is the fact that he and his former fellow Commanders are part of a history-making event — the solid improvement of Tiger football.
Last week's come-from-behind victory over Union College ensures that the Tigers will have a winning season for the first time since 2004. Their seven wins are the most since 2003 when CU went 9-2.
A football season can be a long haul, but the three players from Washington County are looking even more forward to 2010.