ATHENS — For football teams, hope is always strongest in summer. That was the case Monday as Concord University head football coach Paul Price and six upperclassmen met with the media as part of CU’s football media day.
Price, in his fifth year as the head coach, opened by saying, “We got off to a good start with about 120 strong. We’ve been doing the logistics, doing physicals and getting eligible and we start practice this evening. I think we’ve had good retention with both players and coaches with our key players and nine of 10 coaches returning.. We’re looking forward to a good year.’
The offense, he said, starts with fifth-year senior quarterback Kyle Akin.
“We have a good one in Kyle Akin who is starting his second season with us. We feel he’s going to have a big year. In our backfield, we have Josh Maxwell leading the way with good backups behind him. Our offensive line has some established players and we brought in some good recruits. Brandon Plyler is our go-to receiver. He’s in the top 10 all-time when it comes to touchdown catches and that’s saying something when you consider the players we’ve had here. We have some questions about the rest of our receivers but we got some good young players who could develop and we’ve got some ideas about using our fullbacks. tight ends/h-backs and our second running backs in different ways,” he said.
As for the defense, Price said ,”Defensively, we didn’t have our best season this past year, but we’ve taken steps to reinforce our defensive line. We’ve had some great linebackers here and I think this unit is going to be our best yet. We’ve had the strongest corners that we’ve ever had. Safety-wise, Ke’Shawn Hall is our top guy. We think we’ll have a stronger defense this year.”
Placekicker Luke Walls he added, gives the team a chance to score in the red zone any time.
“We’ve recruited a couple of players to battle it out for the punter position. We have linebackers, fullbacks and receivers to fill out our special teams which was our strongest unit last year,” he said.
Price said, “We look for a very upbeat year and to move higher up. If we get a step up, we can go far.”
Price said the schedule has its toughest challenges up front with NCAA Division II semi-finalist Notre Dame, MEC newcomer Frostburg State, WV State, Glenville State and Hillsdale, a Division II quarter-finalist as the first five games.
“When you play the best, you get better. The best way we can do that to play these teams. The saying we have here is that “The Mountain Isn’t for Everybody” and our coaching staff has been working with our upperclassmen to develop them as team leaders,” he said.
Akin said, “Even though we had a better year statistically, there’s still room for improvement. My job is to make sure our playmakers get the ball. If I do that, we’ll be successful”
Plyler said, “We made a good connection from last year. We’re getting better and I think that, if we work together and believe, we can score more points.”
Junior offensive lineman Nathan Toney said, “We have a lot of young guys. Some of them have experience and we have some transfers and freshmen to come in and compete for jobs. We need to block well for the run, because, if we don’t, the defenses will have their ears pinned back and come after Kyle.”
Senior defensive lineman Ryan Gatrell said, “We’ve addressed stopping the run by bringing in players like DeAnthony (Wise). We need to emphasize stopping the run to limit our opponents’ offense and as Nathan said, give us a chance to pin our ears back to go after the quarterback.”
Junior linebacker Dewain Porterfield said, “The last two games last year I took as my training ground. We’re building off of those last two games and the anger we had. We have some big bodies up front and I’m happy about that. You’ve got to lead by words and by example.”
Wise, a senior transfer from the University of Richmond, said, “First, we’re focusing on Notre Dame. The Lord willing, we’ll win that game and take it from them.”
The opening game of the season is Sept. 7 at Notre Dame. The home opener is Frostburg State on Sept.14 starting at noon.
Contact Jeff Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org