Rams rookies helping vets adjust to campus life

Todd Gurley, the 6-foot-1, 230 pound running back, crunches his knees, finds his seat, then zips off through campus on his moped.

The Los Angeles Rams are hosting training camp at the University of California, Irvine. It's a big campus -- sitting on about 1,500 acres -- and rather than walking, some of the guys, many of them defensive linemen, have employed golf carts and even scooters.

"Three hundred pound D-linemen riding on little scooters," laughed second-year running back Malcolm Brown.

"I'm trying to get my hands on one!" said second-year linebacker Cameron Lynch. "Maybe my man Will Hayes will give me his moped and he'll get a cart."

The players are staying on campus, living in dorms, eating with an all-you-can eat meal plan in the cafeteria, and training in the school's athletic complex. It's a sharp change for the veterans from the hotels they stayed in for camp in St. Louis. But for the rookies, it's like they never left school.

"It's a college atmosphere," said 2016 sixth-round draft pick Mike Thomas. "I'm used to it, so I'm adjusting real well."

Although the rookies feel at home, some of the vets need help adjusting to campus life.

"Riding the bus, the bus has two stripes on the back door and you press it to go out and some of the guys are like how did you know that?" said Lynch, who recently turned 23. "Cause I rode the bus to practice in college, so just getting back to that, it's just funny."

The team walks, or scooters, by students, still on campus for summer sessions, every day.

"A lot of students on campus," Lynch said. "A lot of them are playing Pokemon. If you see them with their heads down and their phone, it's guaranteed to be Pokemon."

For the most part, the players mind their business and the students mind theirs, but according to Brown, a few lucky ones got to play late-night ping-pong with a few guys on the team.

Although the Rams are living in the same dorms as the students they see in passing, they have some exclusive luxuries. They all get their own rooms, the original bunk beds or twin mattresses were replaced with king beds, and they only have to share a bathroom with one other person. The one downside? The rooms had no air conditioning when they moved in and Irvine can get as hot as 95 degrees in the summer.

"When we first got there it was extra hot," Brown said. "We had to get the little AC units. They hooked us up."

They might get their own chilled rooms, but the dorms still keep the team close.

"You're seeing each other every single day. You're doing every single thing together from when you wake up to when you go to sleep," Brown said.

The proximity is helping the team bond, and for the around 16 guys on the team 23 years old and under, giving them constant exposure to successful veterans.

"I feel a chemistry going on real well," Thomas said. "There's a lot of young guys on the team; so I follow in their footsteps as much as I can."

But by the end of the day, after waking up around 7 a.m., going to meetings, film sessions and practice, the only thing most of players can focus on is sleep.

"I see them for 12 hours, so once they say break, I'm going to my room, playing my video games and going to bed," Lynch said.

The training camp grind is similar to the college preseason, but Lynch says there are two big differences: "No school and you get paid."

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