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Spears looks to return Alcorn to championship form

LORMAN — Melvin Spears’ message to Natchez High athletes, coaches and fans Wednesday night was, “Why be average?”

The new Alcorn State head football coach challenged everyone in attendance at the school’s annual football banquet not to settle for anything less than the best.

Spears is no stranger to not settling for average, having won a SWAC championship black college national title as head coach of Grambling State University in 2005. Now, Braves faithful are hoping the former Alcorn wide receiver can take the Braves to that same plateau.

“It’s always a great pleasure to come back home,” Spears said. “We’ve been down for a while, and we’re looking forward to going back to the championships we had in the early years. I’m both honored and humbled to continue with that legacy.”

Spears replaced Earnest Collins as head coach in January after Collins left to coach his alma mater Northern Colorado. He served as Alabama State’s offensive coordinator in 2010 and was head coach at Grambling from 2004 to 2006, amassing a 20-14 record in three seasons there.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be in the conference for quite some time,” Spears said. “All of that helped prepare me for this juncture.”

Spears wasted no time hiring Michael Roach as defensive coordinator, who had the same position at Grambling State during the three seasons Spears was at Grambling.

With Roach’s help, Spears said Alcorn was able to sign 30 prep football players on National Signing Day Feb. 2 despite only being on the job a few weeks before players were eligible to sign with the Braves.

“We signed some outstanding players that I think can really make a difference with the football team,” Spears said.

“Our recruiting base is going to be Mississippi and the surrounding areas: Louisiana, Arkansas and even into Alabama.”

And Spears said he knows exactly what he wants to sell to prospective players he’s recruiting.

“We talk about the total person complex: the spiritual, academic and athletic arenas,” Spears said. “Those are the three things you want to develop.

“We want our student-athletes to get an education that enables them to compete on a global market. A great education is what it’s all about.”

Winning football games is important too, Spears said.

“I think anytime you have an outstanding quarterback and you’re able to surround him with good athletes, that’s needed in order to win,” Spears said.

“We may look like we run the spread (offense), but at some point, you’re going to have the run the football if you want to win. We look to do that too. We also want to play a great, high-intensity defense.”

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