- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NORFOLK | Craig Wilkins was not sold on playing football at Old Dominion by a string of playoff appearances.

Nor by a gleaming weight room.

Nor by any sort of tangible evidence.

The defensive back out of the District’s H.D. Woodson High School saw a video depicting what the nascent, built-from-the-ground-up program might look like once he arrived at a school fresh off the decision to revive a program from a long slumber.

Wilkins imagined the sensation of tugging on his crisp new jersey, stepping out of a freshly constructed locker room and rushing through a tunnel from the locker room to the end zone of a packed stadium as the Monarchs made their return to the sport.

On occasion, he and teammate Chris Burnette will drive to the top of the parking garage adjacent to Foreman Field, a Depression-era stadium that served as Old Dominion’s home the last time it fielded a team.

The summit offers the best view as each piece of a football future is installed.

The turf is in. The scoreboard is on the way. And come a Sept. 5 game against Division II Chowan, the Monarchs will resume play as a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) independent.

“The video is real now. It’s just about done,” Wilkins said. “Honestly, it’s better than the video. It’s the real deal.”

It’s precisely what administrators and coach Bobby Wilder hoped it would be at this stage. For Wilder, hired in February 2007, the opener can’t arrive soon enough.

Others might be less patient. The school, after all, last fielded a football team 69 years ago.

Starting from scratch

As Jim Jarrett commences his final year as Old Dominion’s athletic director, he recollects the chatter when he first started the job.

The question was simple: When would the Monarchs bring back football?

“My answer was, ‘When we can afford to,’ ” Jarrett said.

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