Natchez begins fall camp with new quarterback under center

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 3, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School sophomore quarterback Anthony Robinson runs quarterback drills during practice Thursday morning at the high school.

NATCHEZ — On one hand, he’s excited. On the other, he’s nervous.

Natchez High School sophomore quarterback Anthony Robinson was recently named as the starter under center, and Robinson said he’s trying his best to keep his emotions in check.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School’s Christopher Griffin makes a catch as Malik Byrd attempts to block him during receiving drills at practice Thursday morning at the high school.

“At times, it’s a lot of pressure,” Robinson said, “but as I talk to my coaches and team, it gets a lot easier. But there’s a lot of pressure to step up and make plays.

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“In a way, I’m anxious to get the season started and let people know I’ll be the starting quarterback, but at the same time, I’m nervous about messing up.”

NHS began fall camp Monday, and the quarterback position is one spot Bulldog fans are eager to see what they’ll get this fall.

Robinson replaces senior Derrian Johnson as a starter at quarterback, but NHS head coach Lance Reed said Johnson would still be the go-to guy on offense, even if it’s at multiple positions.

“DJ is an athlete that we’ll still line up at quarterback sometimes,” Reed said. “It’s tremendous having an athlete of his caliber. We’re going to ask a lot of him on offense and defense. He’s a very athletic player who’s still learning things.”

As for Robinson, Reed said he has a lot of confidence in the young quarterback.

“Anthony is a young kid whose body is still developing,” Reed said. “His real strength is his throwing arm — he has a live arm. He can make most of the throws we ask him to.”

Reed also said he’s trying to get Robinson more comfortable in the Bulldogs’ offense, especially since he’ll be the de facto leader on the field.

“It’s a lot to ask a young guy to develop quickly in order to play 6A football, but he has a lot of potential,” Reed said.

Robinson said his strengths lie in his arm, and he also has some speed when he’s forced to go mobile. He said he wants to be a dual-threat quarterback, and he’s trying to improve on connecting with his wide receivers.

Since he’ll have Johnson lining up alongside him a lot this fall, Robinson said he’ll be relying heavily on Johnson for advice.

“He tells me to stand tall in the pocket and don’t break too fast and hold my composure,” Robinson said. “I’m the leader of the team, so if I go down, the team goes down.”

Reed said his team is focusing on fundamentals and installing different packages on offense and defense. Now that summer workouts are over, the coaches can be more hands-on with the players.

“We do everything (in fall camp),” Reed said. “Summer is more conditioning and weight lifting, and there’s more coaching in the fall.”

The Bulldogs are currently working on their running game, installing plays, working on technique and keeping things up-tempo.

“We want to have good timing on all those things, and we want to be crisp,” Reed said.

NHS opens against Wilkinson County High School at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at home.