An early Tuesday morning was energetic between Tallahassee’s Wahnish Way and Perry Street.
That’s because Florida A&M football hosted Bragg Memorial Stadium on its first day of spring training for the 2023 season.
Tuesday was just the first day of a 15-day training period for the Rattlers, and head coach Willie Simmons left the lawn satisfied with his team’s performance and drive.
“It felt good to be back on the pitch,” Simmons said. “I thought the energy level was really good and the guys were flying around. We’re just trying to highlight the details, the little things, and that’s going to make the difference if we’re a really good team and a great team this year.”
108 days passed between the Rattlers’ last game of the 2022 season and the start of the spring 2023 football training schedule.
But FAMU players ground up during film sessions, workouts, and off-season meetings as spring drew near. Therefore, there was no waste when it came time to lace up the cleats.
“I thought the guys came out and reacted well,” Simmons said. “We really tried to use the time leading up to the Spring Ball with meetings and walkthroughs. The guys took it as seriously as ever, so you saw a little fewer mistakes on day one than in previous years.
“Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come that we’ll be a little more prepared as the spring progresses.”
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Jeremy Moussa and Isaiah Major go from newbies to veteran leaders of FAMU
Quarterback Jeremy Moussa and linebacker Isaiah Major are considered leaders of their respective offensive and defensive units.
Both competed for a spot as transfers last spring, but the 2022 All-SWAC Second Team duo will no longer have the crutch to be the new kids at The Highest of Seven Hills.
Moussa was involved with a vehement quarterback during spring and fall training camps last season. The Chino Hills, California native, who now returns a year under his belt, wants to lead his teammates.
“This is the first year I haven’t had to learn a new offense since my sophomore or freshman year of high school, so it’s good to have some comfort,” Moussa said. “It allows me to be an additional coach on the field and be more involved with some of the new guys in the quarterback squad.
“It’s important that the quarterback will always be a leader on the team in a way. In the past I’ve been a guy who stayed to myself and put my head down and worked but I think it’s important for me to be a vocal leader now because we need a sense of leadership because ultimately that will make the difference for us.
A lover of the game of soccer, Major couldn’t contain his excitement at being back on the field. Last spring, he introduced himself to the Rattler fandom and his trainers with his potential that ultimately led him to earn a starting linebacker spot in the Dark Cloud Defense.
“It’s like a kid in a candy store,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to come here and do what I love – another chance in football and with my family and my brothers to come back here and do it again.
“I definitely built a foundation last spring. I’m just trying to build on that and keep trying. This is my senior season, so I’m leaving it all out there.”
As the gamer he is, Major worked his way up from junior college and NCAA Division II to finally achieve his goal of playing for Division I FAMU a season ago.
Major returns as one of the team’s best defenders and has the opportunity to take the defense to new heights just as his former teammate Isaiah Land did for him.
“As a younger guy, I always wanted someone to come and help me,” Major said. “I understand that one day I will lead this team and I want them to be as good or even better than us.
“Helping the team and the overall program is the mindset here.”
FAMU players are still bringing competitive fire despite it being day one
Of course, during Tuesday’s first spring training session, there were no shoulder pads and there was no contact.
But that didn’t dampen the Rattlers’ competitive spirit, as offense and defense battled each other as they progressed through formation sets and plays.
“Sometimes the most intense fights are found with your own brother. That’s what’s unique about spring,” Simmons said. “(Football) is probably the only sport where you can’t train or train against someone else for 15 days. So the competition is really offensive versus defensive all the time. Both sides have done some games, which you want to see.”
Major, who has played at various levels of college football, thinks this 2023 FAMU Rattlers team is the most competitive he has ever been a part of.
“These cats don’t want to lose,” he said. “It’s their livelihood, our jobs. So let’s go out there and leave everything at stake, no matter who’s in front of us. So when we get together, we’re going to put in some work.”
Every little detail matters in Spring as the Rattlers navigate a new team
One workout down, 14 more to go.
Simmons understands that this is a new squad he is leading. Country and receiver Xavier Smith’s glory is over so it’s about time someone else showed up.
These include the 13 transfers taking part in spring football training.
“This is a brand new football team and we want to see how closely they fit together,” Simmons said. “Someone else has to be able to mobilize the group when things aren’t going well and create our new identity.
“(The Transfers) have adapted very well and how quickly they’re picking things up is going to give us a real measure of how fast we’re picking things up and then we’ll have a real measure of how much of an impact they’re having and how fast. “
Major understands the criticality of spring training as he progresses through his second with FAMU. It’s about getting used to getting the little things right when the real season kicks off in September.
“[Spring]is just as important as fall,” Major said. “Every day that we come out here and line up plays a role in how you progress as a team.”
FAMU Football 2023 Spring Program
- Tuesday, March 7th – Exercise 1
- Thursday, March 9th – Practice 2
- Friday, March 10th – Practice 3
- Tuesday, March 21 – Practice 4
- Thursday, March 23 – Practice 5
- Saturday March 25th – Practice 6
- Tuesday, March 28th – Practice 7th
- Thursday, March 30th – Practice 8th
- Saturday 1st April – Practice 9th
- Tuesday April 4th – Exercise 10
- Thursday April 6th – Practice April 11th
- Friday April 7th – Practice April 12th
- Tuesday April 11 – Practice April 13
- Thursday April 13 – Practice April 14
- Saturday, April 15 – Orange and Green Spring Game at Bragg Memorial Stadium, TIME TBA
Gerald Thomas, III reports on Florida A&M University Athletics for the Democrat from Tallahassee. Reach out to him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @3peatgee.
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