Jon Sumrall speaks at Troy Rotary Club

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Troy Football Coach Jon Sumrall made a stop at the Troy Rotary Club on Tuesday, July 18, to talk about the upcoming season.

The Troy Trojans are coming off one of the most successful seasons in Division I in school history but Sumrall was quick to say he’s done talking about 2022.

“I got tired of talking about (2022) in January,” Sumrall flatly said. “At our first team meeting for the 2023 spring semester, I got in front of the team and showed them last year’s accomplishments on a Power Point.

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“I said, ‘That was a great team’ and quickly went to the next slide and it said, ‘2023 Troy Football 0-0 and you are responsible for your own outcomes.’ I was ready to move on then. They got reminded that this group has done nothing and anything they do get from here they have to earn. No one is going to give us anything. I think last year we kind of came out of the ‘Dark Horse’ mode, no one really thought we were going to do what we did. We aren’t defending anything. We won’t be hunted by anyone because we are the hunters.”

Sumrall said nothing about his program changes following successes or failures.

“The things that we did last year – the standard and expectation and rhythm and core values of our program – do not change,” he said. “With success, they won’t change and with failure, they don’t change.”

Sumrall and his Trojans are getting set for Fall Practices to begin in August. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

Sumrall said that the core values of Troy Football are: attitude, toughness, discipline and love.

“Life is 10 percent of what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it,” he said. “I am a firm believer that the only true disability in life is a bad attitude. If you have a great attitude you can achieve anything you want.

“We challenge our guys daily with the toughest team wins more often than not. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. You have to be made of tough fabric to survive in this game and in life.”

Troy will have to replace key players from last year’s Sun Belt Championship team. The FBS all-time leader in career tackles, Carlton Martial, and center Jake Andrews – now a New England Patriot – are key pieces that must be replaced on the Troy roster. That, though, excites Sumrall.

“The challenge of who is going to replace a guy like Carlton Martial doesn’t scare me, that’s exciting,” he continued. “Because it gives someone else an opportunity to grow and develop. I’m looking forward to seeing what guys can step up. The challenges are real and our schedule is very strong. You want to play that kind of schedule, that’s exciting to a player or coach.”

As Troy’s offseason workouts come to a close in the next week, and the Trojans look towards Fall Camp in August, Sumrall was pleased with what he saw while coaches were on vacation over the last couple of weeks.

“On Wednesdays and Fridays, in the mornings, we do an organized team activity, essentially a practice without pads,” he said. “The last couple of weeks with coaches on vacation, we sort of transitioned those Wednesdays and Friday mornings into player led practices. Last Wednesday and Friday morning I sat in the stands and let them run the practice and just watched them work and lead.

“We talk about in our program that there are four levels of leadership. First, you have to lead yourself. Then, you have to influence others positively and then you become a leader of others and then you develop others to become leaders. Maybe the most exciting part of my summer was watching all four levels of leadership – as we describe it in our program – take effect. I was watching some guys lead themselves, a lot of guys lead others and some guys that are on an elite level of leadership leading the team from drill to drill.”

Sumrall said that when he arrived at Troy in 2022, a player led practice like that would have been impossible.

“It was essentially a practice taking place without coaches that looked like there were coaches on the ground leading things,” he emphasized. “That’s a testament to the growth of our young men because, candidly, had we done that in January of 2022 it would have been a train wreck. They wouldn’t have known how to communicate or what drill to do or where to go. Most of them didn’t know how to lead themselves let alone others. So, that was a highlight for me to see the growth we’ve had there.”