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Return of student athletes to campus is another milestone on the road to fall sports

(crosses fingers for football)

UTSA v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Texas A&M student athletes resumed voluntary on-campus acvities, including utilizing workout and practice facilities. There are many more hurdles to clear as college athletics as a whole tries to figure out what sports will look like this fall, but this is at least a step in that direction.

This comes just a few weeks after the SEC announced that athletes would be allowed back on campus starting June 8.

“It seems like a long time ago that we shut down, but now here we are where we can welcome back our student-athletes, get them in for voluntary workouts and put them in a safe environment,” said Ross Bjork, Texas A&M Director of Athletics. “We always believed that they were safer here, that we could really protect them to the best of our ability. We have tested our student-athletes, they have all been prepped and ready to go. Seeing our student-athletes, seeing that glean in their eye, they are here to compete and this is a step in that process. We’re very excited.”

From a financial perspective, every Power 5 program is likely hoping that the 2020 season plays out as normally as is feasible. But A&M may hope for that even more than most. They have the most returning production in the conference, bolstered by a second straight top-six recruiting class and year three with the same head coach and coordinators. Add that to a much easier schedule compared to 2019, and it’s easy to see why many experts are optimistic about the Aggies’ chances this fall. But exactly what the season will look like still remains to be seen.

After all, A&M had to put it’s COVID-19 response plan to the test even before student athletes returned when a handful of athletes tested positive for the virus. It would be silly to assume these would be the last student athletes to test positive, and like everyone, A&M will have to gauge the risk and reward of continuing normal operations if the spread is not contained.

At this point, it seems inevitable that football will be played. But we don’t yet know when, where, how much, and who will be there. But all A&M can do is prepare as best they can to be successful under the most unique of circumstances, and they appear to be doing just that.