The Florida A&M football team start spring practice today as they prep for the 2009 season.
The Rattlers are heading into phase two of what head coach Joe Taylor describes as the three phases of the off-season. Phases one through three are the winter, spring, and summer workouts.
The football team is optimistic coming into their second spring session under veteran coach Joe Taylor. The team finished the last season with a 9-3 record and runner-up in the MEAC conference.
Even though the Rattlers finished the season on such a good note, there is still room for improvement according to Coach Taylor.
One of the top priorities is to “get more fundamentally sound, technique sound, [and] making sure that everybody understands concepts,” Taylor said.
The players share the same mind set as their head coach. Curtis Pulley, junior, sociology and history student from Hopkinsville, Ky., said, ” [I] want to get better and keep everybody focused.”
The spring is a time for improvement for most football teams and the Rattlers seemed to be poised to build on success.
“We have to grow up, we can’t be young anymore and we have to handle our responsibilities and do what we have to do,” said Anthony Collins a junior, sociology student from Miami.
Going into the spring the Rattlers have already been hard at work. The team has been participating in winter workouts since the 2008 season ended. The team reports for practice every morning at 5:45 a.m.
Collins spoke about the workouts as something that can only help the team get better.
“We went 3-8 the year before, since last years off season we did the 5:45 workouts and in the end we went 9-3, so we can only get better.”
The Rattlers have one of the more experienced teams in the MEAC conference; they only lost four players off that 9-3 team.
With so many players returning, one of the units of strength is the high-powered offense.
The offense returns players like wide receivers Kevin Elliot, Issac West, Adrian Smith, and explosive running back Philip Sylvester.
Pulley hopes the experience will get the chemistry back on track as soon as possible.
“Hopefully everything will be clicking but I’m pretty sure there is going to be rust, but with everybody being back, it should not take to long for us to get back in the groove.”
The expectations for the team are the same for the Rattlers.
“The season starts in January and February, I expect us to be better and I expect us to be the best,” said Coach Taylor.
The expectations begin today for the Rattlers as they start spring practice. The Rattlers are in shorts until Thursday when they go full pads and begin contact drills.
The Rattlers end their spring campaign on April 5 with the annual orange and green game which is open to the public.