Alcorn’s Teagle back in camp after 2002 injury

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

LORMAN &045; Lonnie Teagle couldn’t believe it.

With pain shooting through a hamstring while lying on the turf at Prairie View, Teagle couldn’t help but think this was not the way it was supposed to happen.

He was supposed to have a superb game playing in his hometown for the first time in his college career. He was supposed to continue on and earn All-SWAC honors at the end of the season. He was supposed to help his team make a push for the conference championship.

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He just couldn’t believe what was happening.

Turned out Teagle, Alcorn’s speedy little 5-4 return specialist, tore a hamstring so severely he could literally do nothing on that leg.

Now the leg has healed, the maturity level is a little higher being a junior and Teagle &045; like all of Alcorn’s returners from a year ago &045; realizes there’s some unfinished business.

&uot;It feels good now,&uot; Teagle said following the Braves’ first workout Saturday afternoon. &uot;I don’t even feel it.

I’ve got to make sure I stretch good and be aware of it because it can jump back up on me. It had been hurting me some (earlier last year), and it was real hot that day. I guess I didn’t stretch well enough. I don’t know if it was a matter of time or what.&uot;

The timing, however, couldn’t have been worse for the Braves &045; who hold their special teams units in very high regard. Teagle was leading the conference in punt returns at 13.8 yards per carry and ended the season second behind his successor, former Brave Kris Peters, while Sidney Dumas handled kickoffs.

It was about that time when the Braves dropped three of their last four games, fell from atop the SWAC East Division standings and endured injuries that had them skidding into the off-season.

&uot;That hurt us so much going down the stretch against Valley, (Alabama) A&M and Jackson State,&uot; said Alcorn

head coach Johnny Thomas, also the team’s special teams coordinator. &uot;Our return units were putting our offense in such good field position. It shortened the field, and we could capitalize on what the defense was doing. Even if we sputtered with our offense, we could punt and put them so deep in their own territory.

&uot;When he left, that disrupted the rhythm we had on our punt and kickoff returns. (Peters and Dumas) had not played the position as consistently as Teagle, and it’s very difficult for anybody to get back there, catch the ball and know the system we have.&uot;

On Saturday Teagle and the remainder of the punt return unit went to work in the morning session of the first day of two-a-days. It’ll be the first of several on- and off-field meetings for the unit as Thomas doesn’t play around when it comes to kicking, punting and everything associated with the two.

&uot;We work special teams like we work offense and defense,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;Special teams are very, very important to the outcome of a game and to the team. We take special teams very seriously, and the seriousness comes from me and the rest of my coaches. If I’m the coordinator, you know there’s going to be a great deal of emphasis placed on it.&uot;

That attitude suits Teagle and the rest of the specialists just fine. Thomas acknowledged Teagle has become a fan favorite of sorts since he’s so small in stature, and the former tailback in high school set school records his freshman year in both kickoff (17.7 yards per carry) and punt returns (11.7).

&uot;A lot of teams don’t focus on special teams and just do it,&uot; Teagle said. &uot;It gives us some pride on special teams. We’re trying to put our best team out there on special teams, and that makes it easier on me. I’m trying to get back to that point and even better. Coach is expecting more out of me since I’m a junior. I’ve got to give more to the team, and the team is expecting more from me.&uot;

Plenty times he has done more than people anticipated he would with such a small frame, but it’s not of any surprise to the Braves. He makes guys much bigger than them fall in the ground trying to catch him as his quickness helps him find the holes running down field.

&uot;I looked at him on film while he was in high school,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;That’s why most people didn’t want him &045; because he was so small. In high school he was making plays on big guys, small guys and medium-sized guys. Everybody pulls for him because he’s so small. You can hear the people in the stadium when he catches the ball. You can hear their enthusiasm, and that’s great.&uot;

NOTES &045; The Braves hit the field with purple helmets Saturday, believed to be the first time in several years if not the history of the program. Decals aren’t on yet, but they’ll feature the letters &uot;ASU&uot; placed similar to that of North Carolina’s pattern but tighterŠ.The Braves have a couple injuries already, but the most notable may be running back Sidney Dumas (groin) and receiver Corvin Johnson (shoulder).