Eric Brock spent most of Sunday afternoon greeting Haskell Indian Nations University football players reporting for the start of preseason camp.
Most of the players Brock was expecting for his third season as the Fightin' Indians' head coach filtered into the dorm from time to time, but a handful were no-shows.
"There are always late guys," Brock said. "One had a flight in on Monday, one is in a baseball all-star game and one just called and said his car broke down in Oklahoma City."
By the time lights out rolled around, Brock no doubt would receive a few more calls from players giving him an excuse.
"You name it," he said with a smile, "and I've heard it."
On a more serious note, several players Brock wishes were returning for the 2004 season already have been ruled out for one reason or another.
Offensive tackle Dale Black Cloud, a first-team All-Central States League selection last season, is ineligible. Moreover, two other All-CSFL picks -- linebacker Matt Kalfsbeck and defensive back Martin Woods -- told Brock they planned to sit out the 2004 season to work.
"They told me they hoped to come back next season," Brock said of the seniors.
Still, Pete Hahn's decision not to return for his senior year may have been the most surprising. Hahn, a 6-foot-2, 235-pounder from Live Oak, Fla., had been HINU's starting quarterback for the last three years.
Brock was vague about Hahn's reasons for staying in Florida, saying, "It's not grades. He's been having some issues. He's had some off-field pressure, I guess you'd call it."
Without Hahn, the leading candidate to become the Indians' quarterback is freshman Kaleb Harris, who was named the most outstanding performer in the Native American All-Star game last month at Haskell Stadium.
"He's walking into a better situation than I'm sure he thought it would be," said Brock about Harris, who passed for 136 yards and ran for 100 more while leading the East of a 34-7 victory over the West in the July 10 all-star contest.
Brock noted, however, that he has three other quarterbacks scheduled to report to camp, including Jody Franklin who quarterbacked the winning West team in the 2003 Native American All-Star game.
Among the top players who are back is Chad Murphy, the Indians' leading offensive threat. As a freshman last fall, the 5-9, 210-pound Murphy led the CSFL in rushing with 970 yards, scored a team-high eight touchdowns and earned first-team all-league honors.
"He's durable and he never takes a play off, not even in practice," Brock said of Murphy, who hails from Norman, Okla.
Today's schedule calls for physicals in the morning, testing in the afternoon and a light practice tonight. Two-a-days will begin Tuesday with sessions scheduled at 6:30 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. Team meetings are slated between practices.
The Indians' 11-game schedule will begin Aug. 28 with a trip to Waldorf (Iowa) College.