Wood Hopes Leader Emerges from Rattlers’ Summer Workouts
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
The Florida A&M football players walked through the Galimore Fieldhouse looking fit.
It serves as Exhibit A for first-year coach Alex Wood that the Rattlers made good use of the time they had this summer for unsupervised workouts – in the weight room and on the practice field.
But leadership is one other key element that he hopes comes out of the weeks his players spent toiling for hours.
“I hope it created a window and opportunity for leadership to emerge,” said Wood, who will begin his first fall practice as head coach in early August.
“That’s what it’s really all about. Whoever it is; we don’t really care.
“It could be a senior, junior or freshman. The only way you can take a leadership role is by what you do. If you’re a worker and a doer then people are going to follow.”
The frontrunner seemingly is senior linebacker Akil Blount by virtue of his actions. He took the lead in the summer workouts and just last week the team culminated a clothing drive that started on Blount’s initiative.
Wood was obviously impressed, although efforts such as social services performed by football players during the summer months aren’t uncommon.
“We know there is more to it than just football and what we do for ourselves,” Wood said. “There is that element of giving back. Ultimately, we want everybody; players and coaches to understand it’s all about service at the end of the day.”
The charitable effort by his players should resonate in the community, Wood said.
“I think people see that we are not selfish,” he said. “We don’t look at ourselves as being on a pedestal; we live in a glass house and when they look in we want them to see a bunch of unselfish people.”
Just like he did with the clothing drive, Blount took charge during the summer workouts. He focused on helping his teammates get a grasp of the new system that Wood brings, while building a brotherhood that they hope will snap a string of three losing seasons.
“We know what we need to do to be the team that we want to be and we know where we are trying to go,” Blount said. “We have to push each other to the max; compete day in and day out.”
Not a soul was spared from working until they executed each drill correctly – not even the freshmen — said senior tight end Alonzo Palmer Hicks.
“It was like another practice; especially for the freshmen coming in,” he said. “We are already showing them half of it. Once they come out (in the fall) they are going to know what to do.”
“When we were out there we were teaching them on the fly but as soon as we come to (fall) camp it’s going to be reiterated.”
Wood said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the up-tempo workouts and enthusiasm that his players demonstrated.
“That’s what we are striving for,” he said. “I hope it’s authentic and not just something touchy and feely because we are something new. As long as it’s authentic, we are excited about it. If it’s not, then obviously we’ve got work to do.”