Returning Rattlers have high aspirations

On Saturday, the Florida A&M University football team held a live scrimmage at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Head coach Joe Taylor wanted to simulate a live performance and enlisted the services of the Marching 100 band and the cheerleaders for the game.

      “Anytime you have a live game feel it makes you better,” said Coach Taylor.  Coach Taylor’s philosophy proved to be accurate as the offense moved the ball effectively scoring 55 points while the defense held the second team to zero points. Senior All-American offensive tackle Robert Okeafor said he was impressed with the team’s performance in the scrimmage.

        “The chemistry is there,” Okeafor said. “We can make some explosive plays and put some points on the board when we’re focused.”

        Coach Taylor said the lack of turnovers and mistakes in the scrimmage game reflects the preparations the team has made for the season opener.

        “This is a good group,” said Coach Taylor. “They have a lot of heart, high expectations, and a lot of high goals.”  

        Last year, the football team went 9-3 barely missing the playoffs and a chance to win a Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference championship. Starting the year with three All-Americans and 13 players on the All-MEAC team, the Rattlers are confident in their ability. Coach Taylor said his team is focused on winning a championship and his team echoed those championship aspirations.

        “We are trying to win a championship, the only goal we have is the championship,” Okeafor said.

        The Rattlers are ranked second behind the South Carolina State Bulldogs in the MEAC preseason predictions polls. While the Rattlers may be anxious to avenge last seasons lost to the Bulldogs, Okeafor says the team is focused on the first game of the season to show off their plan to take it all the way.

        “The only game I’m looking forward to is the next game and that’s Delaware State,” said Okeafor.

        Senior All-American defensive back Leroy Vann said the team worked hard over the summer and they’re going to pick up from where they left off last season at the Orlando Classic game.

        “We have a really good team and we are going to pick up where we left off at the Classic game,” Vann said. “And we’re not going to slow up.”

        Staying competitive in the off season training camps helped prepare the team physically for the upcoming season, build team chemistry, install new plays, and to compete for starting positions.

        “Everyone had equal opportunity over the summer to compete for a position over a starting player if you couldn’t meet the standards then you were moved to the scouting team,” said Vann.  

        Junior wide receiver Kevin Elliott said there isn’t much change in personnel from last year’s team but the team is focused and expects to perform better this season.

        “Not much difference, just the chemistry is better,” said Elliott. “We know what we got to do to win.”

        The season opener will be held at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m.