Sumrall: ‘I’d like to play whoever, whenever’

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Earlier this week, Auburn Football Coach Hugh Freeze made some noise across the state when he suggested that Auburn and Alabama should be playing teams like UAB and Troy in spring football games, instead of intrasquad scrimmages. Troy’s Jon Sumrall had a very simple response.

After practice on Tuesday, he was asked how he felt about the idea of playing Alabama or Auburn in a spring game.

“I’m open to that, for sure,” Sumrall said. “I think there are some positives about guys maybe having something positive to play for at the end like that. I do think there is something nostalgic about having a venue in your home stadium for your spring game. Why not have two of them? Why not have a home-and-home with the same team?”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Later, Sumrall expounded on that sentiment to 247Sports and said that having joint practices – or NFL style Organized Team Activities (OTAs) – may be even more valuable than doing a spring game against another team.

“Do you get caught up in preparing for the game more than just using spring as development time for individuals – and for experiments, adapting and growing within your systems on offense, defense and in the kicking game?” Sumrall asked. “Those are the only drawbacks (of a game) I see.”

Regardless, Sumrall said he and his Trojans are open to playing whoever, whenever.

“I’d like to play whoever, whenever, in the spring, in the fall, in the summer. I’ll do whatever,” Sumrall flatly said. “I like practicing football. Hugh’s a good friend and I’ve talked to him quite a bit since he’s been at Auburn and I think it’s a tremendous idea. It gives you a chance to maybe look at some other stuff against some other people.”

UAB head coach Trent Dilfer – a former Super Bowl winning quarterback – was adamant about wanting the same things.

“Pretty, pretty, pretty please,” Dilfer said. “Yes yes, of course. Hugh’s right. Whether you’re Auburn or Alabama, you’re looking for live competition, you’re looking to not play yourself.

“If you’re UAB or Troy, you’re looking hopefully to play people that are perceived to be much better than you, so you can use it as a test to see where you’re program is at.”

In the history of the schools, Troy and Alabama have met a grand total of zero times on the football field, while Troy and Auburn have met a handful of times in the 1920s and 1930s. Those games, though, were Troy against the Auburn Freshmen and a game against the “Auburn Reserves” or Auburn’s junior varsity at the time. So, Troy has never truly met either team on the football field.

Currently, the NCAA does not allow schools to play scrimmage games in the fall against other teams, but the NCAA just passed a rule that will allow Division II schools to scrimmage against other teams beginning in the spring of 2024. So, that rule change could also be on the horizon for Division I.