University City

49ers program looks toward 2013

The last time the 49ers played a meaningful football game was Oct. 27, 1948. It has been a long time coming, but football is back at UNC Charlotte.

Helmets and uniforms are designed, and construction has begun on the new stadium.

Head coach Brad Lambert came from Wake Forest to build a program from the ground up, putting his stamp on every decision.

From all accounts, he is the man for the job, and Lambert has done everything right so far.

Lambert held a free football clinic in late July that brought more than150 kids from 5 to 14 years old to participate in drills.

Lambert has begun interacting with the community and thanking board members, students and future ticket holders for their support of the program and for bringing football back to the university.

That is the important first step, generating excitement for a school that needs its fans to be ravenous over football.

The program does not kick off until 2013, but seeing Lambert in his 49er gear interacting with the campers is what many UNC Charlotte fans have been waiting for.

Lambert had not coached since leaving Wake Forest in December, and will not be on the field for another two years, but there is plenty for him to do.

The 49ers need players, and his first class will go a long way in setting the tone for 49er seasons to come.

They have started targeting players from all over the country. Some area players the 49ers are said to be interested in include Porter Ridge quarterback Lee McNeil, Ardrey Kell offensive lineman Matt Carrick, Mallard Creek linebacker Wes Fields and Indian Land athlete Rondareas Truesdale.

Once the first few signings are announced, UNC Charlotte football will be more tangible, but having Lambert do and say the right things helps keep hungry fans satisfied for now.

Lambert is a football man and should be a perfect fit for starting the 49er program. At Wake Forest, where the Kentucky native spent the last nine years, the last three as defensive coordinator and the previous six as the linebackers coach, he was respected, successful and well-liked.

Before coaching at Wake Forest he was an assistant at Georgia for five seasons and Marshall for six. Before that he was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma.

Lambert was a three time all Big-8 Conference defensive back as a player and will bring a focus on defense and discipline to the program.

There is a lot of work to do, but he seems ready and willing to take on the challenge.

It was nice to see Lambert in his football gear on a hot summer day in July.

It will be nicer to see him leading the 49ers out of the tunnel in August 2013.