BY DREW CHAMPLIN | email@example.com
Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney had some time to reflect on the state of his team in between sessions of his annual football camp at Rip Hewes Stadium on Thursday.
The camp was for kids ages 6-13, as they learned fundamentals of the game from Troy’s coaching staff. It was a nice bridge between spring practice, offseason recruiting and preparing for the start of fall camp in August.
“We’re holding on and making sure everyone’s qualified before we bring in the young guys,” Blakeney said. “They’re working out. We’re starting our throwing schedule. Coaches just got off the road.
“Everything’s plucking right along. We’re trying to keep tabs on them to make sure they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing school-wise. That’s the important thing, and strength and conditioning.”
Blakeney said a new NCAA rule says that if a signee enrolls for summer school on scholarship, he automatically counts as part of the 25 regardless if he is fully qualified or not. Therefore, most signees won’t get on campus until the second summer term. Two new players from junior college who are enrolled in classes and expected to make an impact are defensive tackle Xavier Melton and defensive end Marty Stadom.
The hope is that more impact players – defensive tackle Derrek Upshaw and cornerback Zach Miller – will be ready to go by the second summer session.
Senior Tony Davis, who moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, is a key part of the defense.
“He’s a guy we’ve got to have out there because he knows what to do and he’ll always try to do it to the best of his ability,” Blakeney said. “He’s not an overpowering athlete, but he’s going to be as close to perfect as he can humanly be.”
Blakeney said injured starters Kyle Wilborn (left guard) and Kanorris Davis (linebacker) are on track to return for fall camp. Wide receiver Corey Johnson, who tore knee ligaments this spring, is doubtful to return this season.
Blakeney was pleased by the effort during the spring and said the return of receivers Chip Reeves and Jamel Johnson, who missed last year due to grades, was a big help.
“Those two cats made a difference in the spring,” Blakeney said. “Our running backs really ran the ball tougher and that’s without a couple of (starters) on the offensive line.
“I think we got better. We ran the football better. We worked hard on the red zone, both sides of the ball, trying to make sure we expose them to as much of that as we can.”
The Trojans will be playing this year on a new field surface. The program is raising money for a north end zone expansion, which would include a football building.
It’s unclear at this point how far away the school is from breaking ground.
“If I knew that, I’d be in Vegas,” Blakeney said. “I really don’t know. I know that (athletic director) Steve (Dennis) is working hard to try to raise some money. We really need a building, an end zone/stadium club or whatever, we need that facility. We need an indoor facility. I don’t know how far along that part is.
“It’s all about recruiting. You’ve got to invest in your program whether it be whatever sport. I think it’s time to invest in football again in Troy.”