The Hornets, preparing for their first game of the season on Sept. 2 against Tuskegee, opened practice for the second consecutive day at 9 a.m. and went through a grinding two and a half hours of practice. The main emphasis was put on individual and team drills, along with continued work on the offensive and defensive units.
With just three more Saturday's until the season opener, here is a look at the top five things you should know about the Alabama State football team.
1. Alabama State features five new coaches to the team this season. Osita Alaribe and Grady Brown were introduced to the team in the spring. Alaribe comes over from Tennessee State University where he served as the defensive coordinator last season. Brown spent last season in Columbia, S.C. at the University of South Carolina as the secondary coach. Joining the Hornets this fall has been the addition of Trey Dunbar, Billy Gresham and Gary Howard. Dunbar will serve as the quarterbacks coach after spending the past three seasons at Troy University as the Assistant Director of Operations and On Campus Recruiter. Gresham will serve as the high school relations director and recruiting coordinator after serving the last six years as the head football coach at Carver Senior High School in Montgomery. Howard will make the transition from offensive lineman last season with the Hornets to graduate assistant.
2. There will be a new defensive scheme in place this season with the addition of Alaribe and Brown. The Hornets spent most of the spring adjusting to the new defense and through the first two practices, the defensive players are continuing to progress under the new system.
"Osita (Alaribe) has done a wonderful job," Jenkins said. "The players have really become acclimated to his system really well. It's a system I fell in love with when I interviewed him. He reminds me of a defensive coordinator who won many championships for me and that is (Charles) Yogi Jones at Bethune-Cookman. He is a young Yogi Jones…Very cerebral, but very detailed. He doesn't do a whole lot of yelling, but does a lot of teaching. He's done an exceptional job and the other defensive coaches have done a great job learning the system. I think they are going to put together a good, strong defense."
3. There is a wide-open competition at the quarterback position this fall. With the departure of starting quarterback Quinterris Toppings from last season, the Hornets have six quarterbacks this fall that will be vying for the starting spot. But don't expect head coach Brian Jenkins to make a decision about the starter anytime soon.
"It is anyone's job," Jenkins said. "Anyone who knows me knows that I like a lot of quarterbacks. If one goes down, then it's next up. All of them are in tuned to what's going on and all of them are executing well, so it's going to be a true fight down the stretch to see who we select. We are going to let those guys battle it out and right now it's only right to keep the competition open and that way each guy can put in his best bid to be that number one guy."
4. It is not where you start, but how you finish. Sure many may grumble that Alabama State was picked to finish second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) East Division behind Alcorn State. However, the Hornets return six on the offensive side and seven on the defensive side, and have a lot of players returning who played off last year's 4-7 squad. The Hornets had just two All-SWAC preseason selections as offensive lineman Sam Baptiste was selected to first team, while kicker Trevor Vincent was named to the second team.
5. Tuskegee is on the schedule, which means a rivalry is renewed. The Hornets have spent the past few days getting back into the swing of things on the football field. One thing is for sure, Jenkins isn't thinking about the Week 2 opponent (Troy) or the rest of the schedule. Right now, the focus isn't so much on that first game, but about getting the players prepared for an entire season.
"Every game is a big game," Jenkins said. "Anytime you are in a competition it is big, regardless who it is against. Tuskegee is a good program; has a winning tradition; a legendary coach. Right now we aren't concentrating on them, but about Alabama State University football and about being the best we can be right now. We are excited about the game and I have heard about it for many years. I actually attended a couple of them when I was a young lad, and I am honored to be able to coach in this game. As we are preparing to be a better team, we are looking forward to that game with Tuskegee."
Alabama State will play six games at the ASU Football Stadium, including the opener – The Labor Day Classic: A Marion Nine Invitational – against Tuskegee. Tickets are still available and fans are encouraged to purchase tickets by calling the Alabama State University box office at (334) 229-4551 or (334), 229-8479. Fans may be able to purchase tickets online by going www.bamastatesports.com or by clicking the following link: https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/team.asp?SponsorID=9737
ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY HORNETS FOOTBALL SCHEDULE 2017
|Tuskegee||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Troy||Troy, Ala.||5 p.m.|
|Kennesaw State||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||7 p.m.|
|*||Prairie View A&M||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||7 p.m.|
|*||Alcorn State||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||6:30 p.m.|
|*||Texas Southern||Houston, Texas||2 p.m.|
|76th Magic City Classic|
|*||Alabama A&M||Birmingham, Ala.||TBA|
|*||Jackson State||Jackson, Miss.||1 p.m.|
|*||Grambling State||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||2 p.m.|
|*||Mississippi Valley St.||Itta Bena, Miss.||1 p.m.|
|94th Annual Turkey Day Classic|
|Cheyney||Montgomery, Ala. - ASU Stadium||2 p.m.|
|Toyota SWAC Championship|
|Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl|
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ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS