Former Rebel QB Smith may get starting nod for Co-Lin this season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

WESSON &045; Brent Tosspon busted through the offensive line like a heat-seeking missile with its intended destination zeroing in on the quarterback.

Thing is, a something strange happened to Tosspon, the former Cathedral linebacker who terrorized quarterbacks last season.

As the bunker-busting bomb rapidly approached its victim, the quarterback shifted gears, sped away and &uot;dusted me,&uot; said Tosspon, who begins his first year at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

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&uot;It is night and day from high school. Everybody up here is fast,&uot; said Tosspon, who has been moved to defensive lineman. &uot;You have to go full speed or else you’re going to get beat. Everybody up here runs sub 5.0 (40-yard dashes). In high school, there were just a couple of people who ran under 5.0.&uot;

The 6-2, 260-pound true freshman is certainly not the first Wolf to experience growing pains at the next level.

With 17 returning starters on a 55-man roster, head coach David Poinsett’s carnivorous bunch is looking to rebound from an adversarial 3-6 2002 campaign.

Weeks away from the first kickoff David Cross abruptly resigned his position, which threw Poinsett, then offensive line coach at Co-Lin, into the fire as the new leader of the pack.

&uot;At this time last year during the summer we were completing things that we should of finished while in the spring,&uot; said Poinsett, who played college ball at the University of South Carolina from 1984-87. &uot;We Carolina from 1984-87. &uot;We were still in the recruiting process. It was definitely a unique situation, but we worked through it.&uot;

Amid last season’s topsy-turvy fall came a huge upset, 24-21, in the season opener over No. 25 Mississippi Delta in Wesson.

Revenge will be on the Trojans’ mind come Sept. 4, as the two teams once again square off to get their seasons under way.

With a season of pungency and some committed months of recruiting for skill players, it would seem the Wolves are poised to erase last year’s tribulations.

&uot;This sophomore class has benefited of time, numbers and character building,&uot; Poinsett said. &uot;A lot of programs’ freshmen don’t step on the field as much as our kids did last year. They’ve developed an understanding of what it takes to win.&uot;

That said, life as a Wolf is a little salivating. Poinsett is determined to create competition at all positions among his players, which has prompted him to not to name starters yet for Thursday’s game.

While feeding his cubs intensity to stay in front of the next guy, Poinsett’s approach can be seen as a double-edged sword.

It begs the question, how can Co-Lin develop continuity to be successful if no one player is sure of his status?

&uot;It makes you wonder a lot more than you should, but it also makes you try just as much,&uot; said quarterback and ACCS product Ty Smith, who maybe a nudge ahead of three others. &uot;By that fact practice should run a lot smoother. As a quarterback you want to grow as a leader every day, but I have two (quarterbacks) right beside me that do as good a job as I do.&uot;

Poinsett complimented Smith on his work ethic, but said the sophomore needs to improve his conditioning just like the rest of the Wolves.

For the first time he can remember, Smith will be responsible for running the option and rolling out to find receivers, such as former Natchez High product Leon Stewart.

Last year, not tinkering with Cross’ philosophies, Poinsett had Smith dropping back, and at AC Smith was used to engineer an offense in the shotgun.

&uot;It’ll improve me and also the whole team,&uot; Smith said of the new schemes. &uot;With the athletes that are here at the skill positions, (option) is more suited for us. I think I can adapt a lot easier with the players that are around me.&uot;

Poinsett is comfortable with the depth of all positions on a defense that surrendered double-digit points in all nine games last year.

Their problems exist more technically with learning adjustments to formations, Poinsett said.

Besides scouring for big-play components, the Wolves coaching staff focused much of their recruiting attention to lineman for both sides of the ball.

Former Natchez High offensive lineman Parnell Boyd (6-1, 265-pound) received the praise of Poinsett, but overall the coach said he is still one step away from throwing a freshman back into the fire.

&uot;We’re finding out who’s going to play for each other,&uot; he said. &uot;We want these players to understand what it means to have teamwork. There’s no sense of individualism on this team.&uot;

That sacrificial nature, along with the adaptation to the quicker pace, Stewart has already adjusted to.

&uot;I’m not going to worry about starting,&uot; said Stewart, who played quarterback for the Bulldogs last season. &uot;I want to come into the game and do what I can to help contribute for the team.&uot;

Another former Bulldog Rod Connor is to be a central figure on Co-Lin’s special teams, Poinsett said, while AC stalwart Garrett Gamberi (6-4, 260-pound) will fight for time up front on the offensive line.

Poinsett does not ask for much from his players, but what is paramount is effort. Last year is a memory, but he hopes he, his staff and the Wolves have learned from mistakes.

&uot;In this game, as in life, you get the test before the first lesson,&uot; Poinsett said. &uot;I wouldn’t wish on anybody what we had to deal with last year.

&uot;We expect 22 guys to walk out on the field and give 100 percent effort. We live that everyday. This team is more blue collar than anything else.&uot;