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Rookies compete under bright lights


CHARLOTTE - Fan Fest has always given fans a glimpse of what to expect from the team heading into the upcoming season, and for rookies Ian Thomas, Andre Smith and Donte Jackson, the night gave them a taste of what it's going to be like to play on their home turf.

"Soon as I walked out of the tunnel, it was kind of mind-blowing," said Thomas, a tight end out of Indiana.

"Just remembering that it's a football game but just being in this environment makes me excited to play and excited to be out there with my teammates competing."

Jackson, battling for a starting cornerback spot, echoed Thomas' thoughts when asked how it felt to take the field.

"It's not a real game, but our fans brought the energy like it's a real game," said Jackson, a former LSU Tiger.

Both Thomas and Jackson touched on how the energy of the fans affected them. But for Smith, a linebacker from University of North Carolina, having another chance – his third chance - to play on this field took on a different meaning.

"I'm not going to lie. I ran out of the tunnel and saw all of this green grass and all of this blue; man, it was beautiful," said Smith, who played at the stadium twice as a college freshman. "It was like a dream come true."

Practice and light show photos from the 2018 Fan Fest practice at Bank of America Stadium.