Running back Bishop Bonnett believes Florida A&M’s football team will flourish under the tutelage of new head coach Willie Simmons.
Bonnett believes the Rattlers are fully capable of going from 3-8 last season to 10-1 this fall.
Though the Rattlers lost eight games a year ago, six of those games were by seven points or less, leaving the crowd heartbroken after some games.
Bonnett says he believes the team lacked the mental poise necessary to overcome their misfortunes when they were struck.
"Last season we had a lot of moments where we got down on our self," Bonnett said. ”When things went bad we would take on the mentality of ‘here we go again’ instead of fighting through adversity."
Bonnett, a junior and a Jacksonville native, says that Simmons tends to put the team in adverse situations to build their mental confidence, not only on the field, but off the field as well.
"To be honest, what we're going through right now, coach is putting us in adverse situations to see who will step up and see who will really lead and be that voice,” Bonnet said. "it doesn't even have to be in practice, everybody has to get their study hall hours or we're doing up-downs at 6:30 in the morning. He’s making it about accountability."
Bonnett says that when the team goes through this kind of discipline, you really get to see players step up vocally. Bonnett believes that the responsibilities placed on the team's shoulders and discipline when failing to reach expectations will carry over to the field.
Junior wide receiver Kevin Troutman echoed Bonnett’s statements by saying he believes the new way of discipline is getting players to buy-in.
"The difference between this season and last season is that players are beginning to buy in," Troutman said. "Maybe it's the way he brings us together as a unit when one of us messes up.”
Bonnett says that previous head coach Alex Wood always had structure and discipline, but never had a connection with the players.
"A lot of people on the team just didn't really vibe with Wood. It was kind of crazy," said Bonnett. "I wasn't here when he came in, but the energy was off. It’s like a different vibe now."
Senior offensive lineman Myles Rouse agrees with Bonnett on the notion that Simmons and Wood differ in coaching styles and Simmons’ style is more effective.
"I think they both held people accountable, only difference is instead of repeatedly punishing an individual for missing a lift or practice or study hall like coach Wood did, Simmons will start to hold the whole team accountable," said Rouse. "He's just different than coach Wood as far as him building relationships with us and I think he has built a brotherhood in the locker room that was lacking last season."
According to Bonnett, the talent was always there to win games, just the confidence to respond to gut-checks in crucial situations was missing. He believes that element won't be lacking this season.