Noise, laughter and random lines from freestyle rap sessions echo throughout the dark empty halls of Florida A&M’s Palmetto South apartment building 608 on late nights. This tight-knit group of football players provides a unique athletically inclined community within a community.
The area is designated for all non-senior players. Assistant coach Jimmie Tyson, who is responsible for allotting housing among the players, keeps track of how many players are coming in each year and reserves the necessary amount of spaces with the housing department.
Freshman quarterback Martin Ukpai said he appreciates being able to share experiences with his teammates on and off the field, particularly considering his transition from Paddyfote Complex at the beginning of the year.
“There is a lot more room and freedom out here [in Palmetto South],” Ukpai said.
Palmetto South Resident Director Aprille Williams said that recreational activities, such as karaoke nights, are a good release for the players.
“Usually they will hook up the mics, get to rapping and do their little miracle lounge [in] their apartments, but it’s not anything that I would say disturbs our community,” Williams said.
“Granted sometimes it gets kind of loud, but they are in there making up their own songs like the next 50 Cent and the next Young Jeezy. They are a very rowdy bunch when they want to be.”
Williams said the players’ unique agenda makes it almost necessary to separate them from non-athletic students to prevent them from interfering with the average student’s schedule.
“Most of them are set up where they have workouts at 5:45 in the morning, come back and take a shower, go to class, go to lunch, go back to practice, go to class, come on home. It is very strict,” Williams said.
Junior wide receiver Kevin Elliot appreciates the familiarity and convenience of living with his teammates.
“[Living together] helps team chemistry. If somebody needs a ride or are running late they can just go next door and see if they can get one,” Elliot said.
Tyson emphasized the role coaches play in helping ensure the athlete’s positive experience with on-campus housing.
“We have a simple rule: Do the right thing,” Tyson said. “We work hand-in-hand with housing so if anything happens, we are over there quickly. The coaches also go [to Palmetto South] on a regular basis to check on the players.”
While Elliot insists that living with his teammates has been a positive experience, he intends to move off-campus next year.
“It’s cool for your freshman and sophomore year, but [all of the room inspections and stuff] get old after a while,” Elliot said. “I’d just rather have my own house.”
Elliot maintains that he still intends to live with his teammates off-campus.