Blakeney calls first day quot;impressivequot;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2000

TROY, Ala. – Although the Troy State football team’s returning players officially reported to campus on Tuesday afternoon, it was the squad’s newcomers who took center stage.

Practice officially began in shorts and helmets for the Trojans’ 52 first-year players under a scorching Alabama sun. Players worked on fundamentals during their morning workout and studied basic schemes during the afternoon session.

"I thought the first day was impressive," Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney said. "We had some guys that went about their business, and most of them were in decent shape. I think some of these guys have a chance to really help us this year."

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Blakeney praised the play of freshman quarterback Hansell Bearden of Cairo, Ga., as well as the effort of freshman running back Calvin Colquitt of Atlanta. Freshman tight end Cedric Phillips of Roanoke, Ala., was also singled out by his head coach.

"We’ve got a couple out here right now who can really give us some depth where we need it most," Blakeney said. "Phillips is one of those guys at tight end. I thought he looked really good for the first day."

Defensively, Blakeney said defensive backs Derrick Ansley from Tallassee, Ala., Neal Oates Jr. from Florala, Ala., and Freeman White were all solid during their first workouts.

Offensive lineman Lee Milliner, a freshman from Enterprise, Ala., said it was good to finally be on the field after a summer of anticipation.

"It’s a lot different than high school," Milliner said. "It’s more intense. It was fun today, but I think we all are looking forward to getting the returning guys out here."

Returners reported for physicals during the afternoon and will spend Wednesday in meetings and orientation. The first full-squad practice is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Thursday.

"It’s good to be back," said senior defensive lineman Tim Betts. "The running backs have already started their talking, so I personally can’t wait to get out there and start hitting. I told them to make sure their ear drums are clean because I’m going to kiss them in the ear."

The Trojans return 12 starters from last year’s team, including six on defense. They are the preseason pick to repeat at Southland Football League champions in their final season as a Division I-AA school. Troy State begins I-A play in 2001.