The first steps toward the 2010 football season will be taken Friday morning at 6 a.m., and they'll be quick ones. The Gophers' first training-camp assignment is a series of 110-yard sprints, moments after sunrise, with coaches holding stopwatches.

            Well, it's a start.

            The more traditional part of training camp, the football part, gets under way a little later in the day, and there's a twist this year. Gophers coach Tim Brewster said Thursday that incoming freshmen will train separately from the returning players for the first three days, in order to give them a little special attention.

            "It's going to allow us to do a better job of teaching the young freshmen," Brewster said. "It means totally spending meeting time with just the freshmen, and on the field-time (too), as opposed to them being in a line that's got four or five guys in it. It will really help the number of reps they get."

            Freshmen will take the field at 9 a.m. each morning, and everyone else will practice at 3:30 p.m. After a weekend of coaching emphasis on fundamentals and technique, the newcomers will join the vets on Monday as regular two-a-days begin.

            "It will help, most importantly, from a confidence standpoint," Brewster said of his 20-member freshmen class. "They'll go into the fourth day with the older guys much more confident."