Starting quarterback still a big question for Rattlers


By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook writer

After the first full week of preseason drills, coach Alex Wood came away convinced that he saw enough indications that his FAMU football team has a better-than-average chance of improving last season’s 1-10 finish.

“We had good energy,” Wood said after the second day of workouts last week. “I think we have got a good nucleus of players in terms of ability.

“We are teaching and learning fundamentals. We are excited about the players we have here. We see potential.”

However, Wood hedged on saying who will be his starting quarterback, although junior Kenny Coleman has the most experience of four players competing for the position. His starting quarterback will be determined by the time the Rattlers open the season against the University of Miami on Sept. 3 at Sunlife Stadium.

In addition to Coleman, who alternated with Carson Royal as starter last season, redshirt freshman Ryan Stanly, junior college transfer Vincent Jefferies, true freshman Tahj Tolbert are competing for the position.

“The guy who moves the team,” Wood responded to the quarterback question a day before camp opened. “The guy that’s most consistent and makes plays.”

Coleman seemed poised to take the front-runner’s role early in camp, though.

“I just have to get up every morning, prepare myself to come to practice, watch film, get better and make plays on the field,” Coleman said. “I see everything playing out for me.”

With a season of film to review to where the Rattlers could get better, Wood said his biggest takeaway was a need to put a stronger team on the field. Linebacker Justin Bennett thinks they are close to doing that.

“The team’s intensity has been through the roof,” Bennett said. “A lot of guys have gotten stronger because the conditioning was better and that’s going to help us win some games in the future.”

Bennett and his teammates spent most of the offseason in the weight room with new strength and conditioning coach Parker Brooks, a product of Alabama. The dividends are already obvious, Wood said.

“Physically; we have made a lot of gains,” Wood said. “We are a much more explosive team than we were a year ago. We have put on quite a bit more muscle mass with our football team.”

But Wood seemingly will wait to see how that plays out in games this season. The Rattlers were held to 2,876 yards of total offense last year, while giving up 5,163.

“We need to give up less explosive plays on defense,” Wood said. “We also have to be more effective in the special teams area. Obviously we need to score more points.”

Especially in the running game, which produced seven touchdowns last season. The Rattlers might get some help with the signing of Cameron Mackey, a 5-foot-10 running back out of Citra.

“We have got to work on it and that’s where the fundamentals come in,” Wood said of the Rattlers’ ground game. “We have to make sure that we don’t place less emphasis on it. We are going to be balanced in our philosophy.”