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Braves know what to expect as they prepare for football season

Alcorn State University quarterback John Gibbs releases a pass during a practice on the ASU campus on Thursday afternoon. (Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat)
Alcorn State University quarterback John Gibbs releases a pass during a practice on the ASU campus on Thursday afternoon. (Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat)

Lorman — The Alcorn State Braves football team is heading into its last leg of summer workouts before the bright lights shine on Saturday night, and sophomore quarterback John Gibbs said he couldn’t be more excited.

The Braves have been practicing five days a week with strength and conditioning coach Reginald Haralson to get into shape, and Gibbs said this year is much easier for him and his teammates now that they have a year under their belts together.

“At 18 years old, leading a team was overwhelming as I was trying to learn myself, but now I know them,” Gibbs said. “Last year it was like we were thrown into the mix, but now we know what to expect.”

Haralson said now that the players are acclimated to his workouts, their practices go much smoother.

“We do the same things as last year, just on a higher level,” Haralson said. “We do it at a higher tempo.”

Haralson admits that he demands a lot from the Braves, but he said it is meant to strengthen more than just their muscles.

“I put a load on them, but it makes them mentally tough,” Haralson said. “If you have the right mindset, nine times out of ten, you can get it done.”

Haralson said everything they do results back to the fundamentals of football.

“While one person is lifting, one is spotting and one is doing fundamental drills that help in their respective positions,” Haralson said. “The offensive linemen are working on their hand movements and the running backs are working on their footwork and changing directions.”

The football players are also working on their footwork in their cardio workouts.

Gibbs said cardio is one of the tougher parts of their workout.

“I don’t think we’ll be out of shape at all,” Gibbs said. “We have a fast, up-tempo offense so we’ll be able to move the chains faster.”

Freshman cornerback and Jefferson County High alumnus Nicolas Brown said he noticed the difference between high school and college training right away.

“It’s a big difference, the workouts are much harder with all of the running,” Brown said. “It took me three weeks to get acclimated.”

Haralson said Brown has come a long way in a short period of time.

“When he first got here, his lifting technique was off,” Haralson said. “But he has gotten much better. I’ve watched him and he’s doing better.”

All in all, Haralson said he sees a big improvement in the team, and he is confident that their season will improve as well.

“We have a really young team, so for them to pick up on training habits this early is great,” Haralson said.

Gibbs said there are several other things his team has gotten better, but there are still some things they need to work on as well.

“Our discipline has gotten better, but we need to work on our timing between the quarterbacks and receivers and our communication,” Gibbs said. “We’re doing a lot of 7-on-7 drills to work on that.”

Gibbs said the Braves would report to a two-week training camp on Aug. 4 before school starts on Aug. 26.

The Braves play their season opener against Edward Waters Sept. 31 at home.