Troy football takes the field in first fall practice

Published 9:17 pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

Troy's D.J. Taylor runs with the ball during practice in Troy, Ala.,Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Troy took the field on Thursday to open fall practice. It was a welcomed event for a team that finished 3-9 last season.

The Trojans were picked by Sun Belt Conference coaches to finish fifth in the preseason poll but Troy has its sights set on a higher prize.

“We’re trying to work back to where we think Troy belongs and that’s in a championship race and in a bowl,” head coach Larry Blakeney said. “We have evolved as a team of leaders and have more guys trying to assurt themselves as leaders.”

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The Trojans will practice in shorts and helmets until Monday when they change into full pads.

Though just the first day of practice, Blakeney said he was pleased with what he saw.

“We had a good work day,” he said. “I hope that we build on today and get better. The challenge to each individual player is to come out and get better everyday.”

Quarterback Cory Robinson seems to be the unopposed starter while junior college transfer Deon Anthony took reps with the second team. Anthony is expected to give Troy a more mobile option at the position.

With the announcement earlier this week that wide receiver Jamel Johnson would be academically ineligible for the second consecutive year, more focused more on Chip Reeves, who also sat out last season but will be in uniform in 2012.

Shaq Beverly, a true freshman, worked with the first team defense at cornerback. The First Coast High School product was prep teammates with Troy wide receiver Brandon Brooks.

The Trojans will play in-state rival UAB to open the season on Sept. 1. The game is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start and will be televises on Fox College Sports.

Troy will play six home games this season for the first time since making the move to Division I in 2001. The Trojans host Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, Florida International, Navy, and Arkansas State.