BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State football team celebrated the first day of spring Wednesday by hitting the turf to kick off spring practice. With the sun shining over Chet Anderson Stadium and the temperature nearly reaching 40 degrees, the Beavers couldn’t have asked for a better way to start spring ball, at least considering how brutal this winter has been.

“It’s been a long winter,” head coach Brent Bolte said. “It’s always fun to come back out here. I didn’t know what to expect with the field, but the maintenance group here did a phenomenal job.”

“It’s real nice to get out in the sun,” soon-to-be senior defensive back Michael Junker said. “We have the new indoor facility but that’s not the same.”

As last year’s seniors depart the program, the next month of spring practices will be a time to bring the younger players up to speed.

“The offense as a whole, we’ve just got to get the playbook down,” quarterback Jared Henning said. “We have a lot of young guys coming up, but a very talented group. So with me going to be a senior, I just kind of help the young guys out. I’ve been in the program a long time so I just kind of give them some knowledge.”

Wednesday was the first time since November most of the team had been on a football field.

“For us, it’s just to shake some rust off of some of the guys,” Bolte said. “I think that was a big part today, just getting guys lined up and running around. But we’ve got a lot of returning guys on the offensive side of the ball.”

Leading rusher Andrew Lackowski and receiver Landon Jones are set to graduate, but BSU will return the bulk of its offense, including all three quarterbacks.

Redshirt freshman Brandon Alt started under center the first two games of 2018 before a knee injury sidelined him the rest of the season. Henning and true freshman Alec Ogden split time at quarterback following Alt’s injury.

Alt is making good progress as he works to return to full strength, Bolte said.

“We’re just precautionarily keeping him out of contact through the spring,” Bolte said. “I would say by the time we roll through May, I would say he’ll be 100 percent to go through our summer conditioning and summer stuff.”

On defense, the Beavers will work to fill the void left by departing all-conference defensive backs Gunner Olszewski and John Vogeler. Olszewski also earned Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year and All-American honors.

The spring season will culminate with the annual Green and White Spring Game set for Saturday, April 20.