Troy opens spring practice with new attitude

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2012

With the sting of last year’s 3-9 season still lingering, Troy opened its spring practice on Sunday.

The Trojans are looking to recapture the winning attitude the team had during its run of five consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships from 2006-10.

“The players and coaches have been in a really good frame of mind,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “I’ve been impressed with (player’s) response to the coaches and what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to nurture the feeling of the team concept and what it takes to win at this level.”

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Blakeney will have plenty to evaluate during the spring sessions, which concludes with a scrimmage on April 14. Though the team returns 16 starters, Troy must replace some key players.

Andrew Phillips took snaps with the first team offense as the frontrunner to replace Zach Swindall. The Trojans must also look to fill the void at left tackle left by James Brown. Sophomore Terrence Jones and senior Jarred Fleming both saw action at the tackle position on Sunday.

The special teams unit will undergo a complete overhaul as Troy lost its long snapper (Wes Henry), kicker (Michael Taylor) and punter (Will Goggans).

Junior college transfer Will Scott and redshirt freshman Jed Soloman have caught Blakeney’s eye as possibilities as the team’s punter and kicker.

“Out kicking game could be really good even though they are young,” he said. “It was the first time for some of them kicking on our field and I thought they looked good.”

With so many new faces, Blakeney feels it’s a good chance to form new bonds and create a tough, team-oriented mentality though several guys are sitting out with injuries.

“I’ve got a good feeling about the new guys,” he said. “We need everybody out there practicing. Injuries happen but we have to have guys willing to play through some of that stuff.”

Troy welcomed receivers Chip Reeves and Jamel Johnson back to the field after sitting out last season due to academic ineligibility.

The Trojans also added Julius Brown to its staff as cornerbacks coach. Brown has not been officially announced by the university but is expected to be declared this week.

Troy will return to the practice field Tuesday at 3:30p.m. The annual T-Day game is set for March 31.