Alcorn begins two-a-days Saturday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

LORMAN &045; When you come up together and experience more humblings than you’d like in three years, there comes a time when it all pays off.

Your senior year.

So here is Alcorn guard LeDarien Strauss, one of four seniors on the offensive line that have been around the last three seasons. He’s got the horror stories to tell, like the winless 2000 season and last season’s meltdown after injuries and inconsistencies bogged down a 5-1 start.

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But he’s putting it all aside as the Braves begin their 2003 season Saturday with two-a-day workouts.

&uot;We’re very excited about the season,&uot; said Strauss, one of six Braves named Preseason All-SWAC. &uot;We’re ready take it one game at a time and get to the SWAC championship. We’ve got high expectations, and we’re ready to get it done. We’re in excellent shape.&uot;

Players reported to the Lorman campus earlier in the week and have spent the week lifting weights and getting in condition for two-a-day workouts. New NCAA rules do not allow two-a-day workouts on consecutive days, so the Braves will go every other day with a morning session from 9 to 11:45 and an afternoon session from 3:30 to 5:45.

&uot;They’ve reported and ready to go,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;They have a great deal of enthusiasm. The guys we are depending on have worked hard, are eligible and are in pretty good condition. You’re not going to ever be in football condition, and I don’t think can be prepared for football, but they’ve prepared to get in football condition. They’re doing very well.&uot;

While there is optimism among the program, those voting in the preseason poll may not agree. At least this time the Braves got a little more respect as they were picked to finish second along with Jackson State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s East Division with Alabama A&M in first.

But, as they say, you know how polls go.

&uot;A prediction is just a prediction,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;We’re trying to finish first in the SWAC, and that’s our goal every year. Last year they predicted Jackson to win, but Jackson didn’t win it and A&M won it. We’re just trying to get ready for UAPB and take one game at a time. Our goal is like everybody else’s goal &045; to end up in Birmingham competing for the SWAC championship.&uot;

Said Strauss: &uot;We don’t put too much stock into those predictions. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. It’s more of a motivation to get to first.&uot;

Strauss (6-1, 322) earned preseason honors from the conference along with running back Sidney Dumas on offense and four on defense &045; lineman Bryan Williams, linebackers Omega Logan and Dwan Wilson and defensive back Tyrone Parsons.

But it’s the offense that may be the focal point after the defense jelled down the stretch last season. Donald Carrie spent a significant amount of time on the bench, including the entire first half of a 23-6 loss at Mississippi Valley State.

&uot;Experience-wise, we’ve all come up together pretty much on the offensive side of the ball,&uot; Strauss said. &uot;We’ll be very experienced and know what it takes and what to do. We’ve grown together. Donald is in great shape. This is the best I’ve seen Donald since I’ve been here.&uot;

The team has two injuries to report &045; starting right tackle Jason Lewis will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery for a heart murmur, and he’ll receive a medical red-shirt and play the 2004 season.

Junior college transfer Liquori Campbell will be out for three weeks after he was accidentally shot in the calf while working a security job with his father in California during the summer.