NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football team took to the field for the first time in 2016. The Tigers opened camp in the hopes to returning to their winning ways after a 4-6 season a year ago.
At this point last season, head coach Rod Reed was looking to see who would step in and fill the spots of nine departing starters on defense and over half of the offensive unit. Reed has the luxury this season of flipping the numbers on offense and bringing back eight from the 2015 defensive squad.
The Tigers opened the day with work on special teams before stretching and warming up for the two-hour workout. The Big Blue would then get the opportunity to work with their position coaches for the first time since spring practices.
The energy picked up as the Tigers moved into a 20-play 7-on-7 session, before a 25-play full team tussle. The defense seemed to claim bragging rights of the match-ups on day one.
The Big Blue will return to the practice field on Friday morning in a helmets-only workout for the second consecutive day. The weekend will consist of another workout on Saturday morning and picture day on Sunday.
Notes: First practice of the 2016 season under Head Coach Rod Reed… Reed is starting his seventh season at the helm… Only John Merritt (20) and Henry Kean (10) have coached more football seasons at Tennessee State… Practice time temperature: 88… First game is Saturday, Sept. 3 versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 18th John Merritt Classic…
TSU Head Coach Rod Reed
- On Camp Progression
"I think our guys understand where we're trying to get to, and I'm really happy with the overall progress from last spring until now. We've got a long way to go. No doubt about it. This is just the start of this whole thing. We've got 29 practice opportunities, and we've got to get better each day."
- On the Start of Camp
"It's great to see the guys back out here. It's great to be out here with all the coaches doing what we love to do. This time of year, you start to feel the juices flowing and when you first walk on the grass, you say, 'man, here it is again.' It's a great time of year for all of us."
- On the Focus of the Preseason
"We want to improve every day. We want to work on the fundamentals. We have five heat acclimation days, so we want to work on the fundamentals as much as possible. Alignment, assignment, execution."
Offensive Coordinator Jeff Parker
- On Returning to the Practice Field
“I’m very excited about being back out here. Ready to see the young guys improve on a really good spring. Offensively we want to put our guys in the best position for them to be successful whether that is running the ball or throwing it.”
Defensive Coordinator Osita Alaribe
- On Visions for the Defense
“It feels great having a lot of returning guys who have been through a season and have playing experience. I want to see us communicate, get aligned and execute our assignments. Today was about getting our nerves out and getting back in the swing of things.”
TSU Red-Shirt Sophomore Center, Thomas Burton
- On First Practice
“I am looking forward to running the ball this year. We want to run it down somebody’s throat. First day of practice felt great, we came out slow but we have to pick it up tomorrow.”
TSU Junior Defensive End, Latrell Lee
- On the Defense
“Defensively we have so many pieces coming back; I just want to see us be dominant this year.”
TSU Redshirt-Sophomore Safety, Laquarius Cook
- On Belief in the Defense
“I think we can be the best defense in the nation. We have been working hard all summer; and we have a bond together and we communicate effectively.”