CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS)-- One hundred and twenty three days have passed since UVA football last stepped on the practice field. Today they returned, but not without heavy hearts for the three players absent: Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler.

"It means a lot to be honest to see all these guys practice," started UVA football head coach Tony Elliott, "It's the first time we've been on the grass since everything transpired back in November."

The beginning of spring practice brings with it not a return to normalcy but a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for life.

"The guys came back with just an unbelievable sense of urgency and unbelievable spirit about them," said Elliott, "They have really taken hold of the appreciation and the gratitude that they have to be here at the University of Virginia to carry forward the legacy."

"Coach mentioned a lot that we're moving forward but not moving on and I think that's kind of the mentality in the locker room," explained senior safety Antonio Clary, "That we're going to come out here and step on the field and honor those guys every single day in the way we practice."

Not moving on but moving forward, it's a message that's been taken to heart by everyone, and embodied by running back Mike Hollins, who fully participated in practice just 4 months after being shot in the back.

"He is a strong man," said senior running back Perris Jones, "His fight everyday encourages all of us to continue to fight and do the best that we absolutely can because if he can do it we can as well."

Among the returners are a new cast of characters as well. New coaches and new players who have been tasked with with carrying on legacies for players they didn't have the opportunity to play with.

"Those guys have done an unbelievable job of just becoming a part of the team," said Elliott, "They understood what they were signing up for. They understood the situation in the locker room that they were walking into and they've just become one of the brothers."

New additions, new purpose but one goal: to honor the legacies of the three players who should have been on the field today.

"Just go out there every day and know who you're playing for," said Clary, "Those guys would want us to move forward and honor them the right way.  That's what we're going to continue to do this spring ball, and not take anything for granted because we know they wouldn't want us to take anything for granted either."