With the bitter taste of last years miss at a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship on their tongue, the Florida A&M University football team is ready to kickoff what many on the team believe will be a championship season.
All-American quarterback Curtis Pulley said the preseason hype and awards don’t mean anything to him because they will not help the team win a championship.
“You don’t play for individual awards at this level,” said the senior Hopkinsville, Ky., native. “We want to leave here with a championship.”
Pulley said he believes the team had a legitimate shot at winning a championship last year. However, he said the lack of focus was the reason for the Rattlers coming up empty handed.
He and several other key players on this year’s team have been stressing focus to their teammates. Senior All-American offensive tackle Robert Okeafor said he does not like his All-American title and says he puts it out of his mind in his personal life but he said he knows the bull’s-eye on his back will be a lot bigger this year.
“I love the award but I hate being called that because that was last year,” said Okeafor. “I just have to be prepared and make sure I play my best because the guy across from me is going to bring it.”
The Rattlers will start the season against the Delaware State University Hornets, a conference team, and the players know the level of play will have to be high. Okeafor doesn’t feel the intensity will be an issue for the team because they understand the importance of this game.
“We will start out fast, play aggressive and come out with a win,” said Okeafor. “We can’t predict how many points we’ll put up or how many point they’ll put up but I can predict a win.”
The outcome of the game will serve as an indicator for how the Rattlers will perform throughout this season according to Okeafor. His teammate, Kevin Elliott said the team is prepared to execute coach Taylor’s plans and play FAMU football.
“Last year when we played teams that weren’t as talented as we were we would play to their level but we’re trying to focus on playing at our speed,” the senior wide receiver said.
Delaware State currently has a winning streak against the Rattlers that stretches back to 2003. Playing at top speed will be essential to victory.
“We haven’t beat this team in the four years I have been here and it’s really important to start the season off with a win,” Elliott said.
Okeafor said the Rattlers have a simple game plan and that’s to come out and hit the Hornets early and hard and they want to keep that mentality going throughout the season. Pulley said he wants to be remembered as the football player on the team that won a championship. Elliot directed his final words at the fans.
“We want everybody to show up at 6 p.m. sharp wearing their orange and green and be ready for a exciting and intense game.”