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UCA football hosts media day

This 2022 season will be the inaugural year of ASUN Conference football

CONWAY, Arkansas — After being at the Southland conference for about 15 years, UCA made the switch to the ASUN. 

Last season the Bears finished the season 5-6 while participating in the ASUN-Western Athletic conference challenge by playing teams from those two leagues.

This year, the Bears will fully play in the ASUN and play all of the conference's schools with football teams. 

"I think it's refreshing, I think it's exciting. Any time you can be the first and be a trailblazer, I think that's a positive thing. I talk to our players about this all the time. You have a chance to etch your name in the record book forever, you get to be the inaugural conference champions of the ASUN people will always remember that. That's a big deal. So when you talk about a lasting legacy and the ever-changing environment in college athletics and conference realignments and all the things that are in our faces right now, it feels good to be in a progressive and proactive conference," UCA Head Coach Nathan Brown said. 

The Bears will look to replace last year's starting quarterback, Breylin Smith.

 In five seasons he made his way to second in the record books for career passing yards, passing touchdowns, and competitions.

Northern Iowa transfer, Will McElvain will look to be the starter this season. 

The junior threw for 3,953 career passing yards and 22 touchdown passes at UNI and started in 2019 and 2020. 

So far at UCA, he's been praised for being a dual-threat athlete. 

 "I feel comfortable. At UNI something I felt that was a curse at the time is a blessing now. I had a  new OC every year and had to learn a new offense now that I've come here and had to transition it has been easier for me than it might've been for other guys so its been smooth so far," McElvain said. 

As for returners, look out for Junior Defensive End Logan Jessup and Sophomore Running back Darius Hale who have both been nominated as ASUN defensive and offensive players of the year respectively. 

Jessup, started in every game last year and led the Bears with 11.0 tackles for loss. 

Hale, was the conference's freshman of the year and led the team in rushing yards with 1,015 yards on 198 carries he also scored 17 rushing TDs.

"It feels different going into the season compared to years past. I feel like we've got more of a bond. Less of an ego and more of a chip on our shoulder, very excited to start the season," Jessup said. 

"First couple games I definitely wasn't running my best it took me time to adjust. But towards the end of the year, it was smooth rolling it was easy when I go to practice every day every time I was out on the field. The chemistry this year is different I think it's better than last year," Hale said. 

UCA will open up its season on September 1st against Missouri State. 

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