Team hits field in spring matchup

Florida A&M University football players went head-to-head in their annual spring game at Bragg Memorial Stadium. 

This years contest resulted in a 41-0 seemingly effortless shutout by the green team. 

The teams were divided by depth chart positions, first team players wore green jerseys while second through fourth team players wore orange.

Junior running back for the green team Phillip Sylvester displayed early signs of success with his run performance in the first half rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Offensively the green team’s play action worked so effectively that on several successful plays, ball carriers carved unscathed paths through the orange team’s defense for positive yards.

Senior running back Demitric Henry added to the Rattlers’ achievements out of the backfield earning the green team’s first score with a 16-yard touchdown reception capping off a productive drive.

Quarterbacks Curtis Pulley and Eddie Battle had a consistent rotation underneath the center alternating series. 

The orange team’s defense was unable to prevent Pulley from throwing a perfect first half, with a 100 percent rating after completing 5 of 5 passes.

The Rattlers first team wide receiving triumvirate of Kevin Elliot, Adrian Smith and Isaac West exhibited their cohesiveness with their route running and timing. 

Elliot, a red-shirt sophomore, was a key factor in the green team’s aerial assault along with freshman teammate Travis Harvey.

Junior defensive backs Qier Hall and Curtis Holcomb led the Rattlers first team defense.
Both displayed lock down coverage in pass protection. 

Red shirt senior Joseph Wims applied heavy pressure on the backfield of the orange team’s offense, earning four tackles in the first half.

The orange team’s quarterback rotation consisted of senior Brian Gilmore and red-shirt freshman Martin Ukpai. 

Behind the center Ukpai seemed very poised and agile with a good sense of pocket presence.

Gilmore took most of the snaps for the orange team piling up 55 yards in the first half and showing good signs of chemistry with his receivers. 

Red-shirt sophomore Jonathon Sanders looked promising at the wide receiver position along with teammate Jeremy Tillman, who is also a red-shirt sophomore.
Both combined for 48 receiving yards in the first half. 

The green team’s defense forced the orange into several punt situations, allowing All-American kick/punt returner LeRoy Vann to display his talents. 

“After the half I told myself I needed to relax more and just come out and play football,” Vann said. 

“This upcoming season my teammates and I plan to play strong so that we can hopefully win every game.”

Vann’s engine didn’t really get started until the second half of play with two returns for over 30 yards or more. 

Entering the second half the green team led by three touchdowns.

Head Coach Joe Taylor made the last minute decision during halftime to switch the game clock from 12 minutes per quarter to 15. 

After the time change the games’ speed seemed to slow down but the score continued to increase as the green team continued to take advantage of every possible opportunity. 

The green team was nearly unstoppable as Sylvester and Henry continued to pile up yards on the ground. 

Sylvester reached the century mark on the ground rushing for over 100 yards on more than 10 carries.

Sylvester and Henry scored the final two touchdowns for the green team’s offense on the ground and through the air.  On defense, red-shirt senior Fabian Wilson intercepted a pass and returned it for the games final touchdown. 

Wilson displayed great recognition throughout the entire game at the defensive back position earning solo tackles and a name for his self among spectators.

The Rattlers have the potential to be one of the favorites in the 2009 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference. 

The team returns 18 starters including two All-American and seven All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference players from last years 9-3 team.     

Offensively, the Rattlers progressed and established themselves late in the season following the transfer of Curtis Pulley from the University of Kentucky who accounted for almost 2,300 total yards and 24 touchdowns. 

Defensively, the team returns nine starters led by linebackers Bryan Parker and Alvin Graham, along with tackle Cameron Houston.

Joe Taylor armed with a variety of offensive and defensive weapons are returning for his second season as head coach for the Rattlers, aiming for a league title and an NCAA Playoff birth. 

This game was just a piece of what will come in the  2009 season. The Rattlers seemed prepared and eager for what will come in the future.

So Rattler fans should be prepared for a ride.