DENVER — After 642 days, the Orediggers are back.
"It's awesome, I mean the kids are hungry, the coaches want to coach, and our fans are jacked up," Colorado School of Mines head coach Gregg Brandon told 9NEWS.
2019 was a breakout year for Wheat Ridge native Mike Zeman, who turned in a thousand-yards rushing and only started for half of a season.
"He's everything you want in a player, no nonsense guy, just shut up and run. He's a tough, hard-nosed running back who stepped in when our All-American Cam Mayberry got hurt halfway through the 2019 season and he never looked back, and neither did we," Brandon said.
But Zeman wants to shoutout another star in junior quarterback John Matocha. Matocha was nominated for the Harlon Hill MVP Trophy his true freshman year.
"Right away, his confidence showed. He knew what he was doing, he was confident in everything he was doing, and right away became one of the best leaders on the team. He still is that way," Zeman said.
The Orediggers come in as the No. 10 team in DII in the country, but aren't worried about having a target on their backs.
"It's motivation to keep on going. We haven't achieved our ultimate goal, which is winning a national championship, but the guys are talking about it, which is exciting," Brandon said.
And even though they're talking about it, the players know they must show it as well.
"To get that recognition as a team, it takes all 22 guys on the field, all of offense and defense to get there. I think with both sides of the ball, we have a really good chance to show all of DII what we have this year," Zeman said.
Mines will kickoff their season on Thursday night against Western Oregon.