Can the Rattlers go back-to-back?

Junior Muratovic throwing a pass.
Photo courtesy: FAMU Athletics

On April 12th, the Rattlers hosted their annual orange and green spring game at Ken Riley Field, Bragg Memorial Stadium, showcasing promise on both offensive and defensive fronts. Team Green secured a 14-7 victory, marking an improvement over the previous year’s performance. The Rattlers’ impressive showing instilled confidence that they are well-prepared to contend for the SWAC championship and strive for back-to-back victories in the Celebration Bowl.

The Rattlers lost a lot of key players this offseason with their QB Jeremy Moussa who won SWAC Offensive Player of the Year and Star LB Isaiah Major who won SWAC Defensive Player of the Year who both declared for the NFL draft alongside 16 other teammates. Additionally, notable losses through the transfer portal, such as Gentle Hunt and Kardell Thomas necessitated the filling of substantial talent gaps. Despite these setbacks, the Rattlers’ depth and the standout performances of emerging players during the spring game provide reassurance for the team’s future success.

The player who had the most impressive showing was former backup Quarterback Junior Muratovic. Muratovic is entering his junior season as he sat behind Rashawn Mckay for a season and Jeremy Moussa for two.

“ I had a real tight relationship with him, we were always roommates on the road and I would like to pick his brain and the things he would do and if I liked it I would try to add it to my game so I learned from Mousa” stated Muratovic when asked did he learn a lot being a backup.

Muratovic is in an ongoing battle with FAU Transfer Daniel Richardson with the battle likely going into fall camp. Muratovic showed his potential as he threw for 2 touchdowns in his performance, one to TE Koby Gross and another to former QB who recently switched to Wideout Jacory Jordan. On the other hand, Richardson only had a few completions throwing one interception.

On the defensive side, young talents made significant contributions, notably Ah’mare Lee, a former UCF transfer poised to step into a starting role following the departures of cornerbacks Eric Smith and Javan Morgan. Lee’s stellar performance in the spring game, including three tackles, two pass deflections, and an interception, foreshadows a promising season ahead. Similarly, Jordan Cumberbatch, who missed the previous season due to a broken leg, made a triumphant return with a pivotal pick-six, to prevent Team Orange from being shut out.

 “It felt really good to be back out there, being active and healthy because with the injury that I had people weren’t even sure that I would be able to play again, so it felt good,” Cumberbatch stated. If Cumberbatch stays healthy he also could have a breakout season and a player to watch out for.

Despite the departure of head coach Willie Simmons and numerous players to the draft, the Rattlers remain steadfast in their pursuit of success. Key returning players, including Celebration Bowl Offensive MVP Kelvin Dean, Jaquez Yant, Jamari Gasset, Jeremiah Pruitte, and Kendall Bohler, provide stability, with Coach Colzie being promoted to head coach and new coaching additions, notably CFL Hall of Famer Henry Burris, help reinforce the team’s leadership. With aspirations set on returning to the Celebration Bowl, The Rattlers are ready for next season. Junior Muratovic expressed the team’s ambition, stating “Our main goal is to be back in Atlanta in December for the Celebration Bowl.”