The Troy Trojans football team is gearing up for the first spring training sessions under new head coach Jon Sumrall starting March 22.
Troy will practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from March 22 until the annual T-Day game on April 23. The only exception to the schedule will be a practice on Friday evening April 15 inside Veterans Memorial Stadium. The rest of the training will also take place in the morning.
Sumrall said one of the main things he wants to do this spring is establish the culture of hard work he wants in the program.
“The first thing we want to establish in the spring is to create a culture and create a standard for what our work ethic will look like,” Sumrall said. “What does continuous improvement look like on a daily basis and challenging ourselves to be the best version every time we step onto the training ground. We need to create a culture of what the day-to-day expectations are.
The Troy program has already begun this hard work with off-season workouts. Junior All-Sun Belt outlaw Richard Jibunor, offensive lineman Jake Andrews and defensive lineman AJ Pierce have set personal bests in the weight room so far.
Sumrall also talked about the changes coming to the team, especially on offense, in the offseason and he said fans will see the beginnings of that in the spring. While Chip Lindsey’s open “air raid” offensive style tended to give up the run at times, Sumrall said he and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock wanted a more balanced offense.
“We want to run the game and be physical at the point of attack,” Sumrall said. “We want to take vertical shots out of the running game and create explosive plays, and we want to dominate the line of scrimmage.”
Defensively, Troy fires a number of starters, including Jibunor, linebacker Javon Solomon and All-American linebacker Carlton Martial. Carlton ranked sixth nationally in total tackles (127) last season and Solomon was tied for ninth nationally in tackles for loss (17) and seventh nationally in sacks (11).
“We want to attack in defense and swarm with 11 hats in football,” Sumrall said. “We are going to be a physical football team that runs the football and stops the run in defence.”
Although Sumrall said a number of players have already established themselves in the program, the starting positions have to be earned.
“There are obviously guys who are established players in our program,” he said. “Everybody knows who Carlton Martial is. Everybody knows Kimani Vidal. But inside of that, every starting job on our roster is Troy’s job; it’s nobody’s job.
“Throughout the program, we’re going to be constantly competing to see who the first-team guys are and who the second-team guys are. However, everyone in our program will develop steadily as there will be a number of guys who aren’t considered starters on day one and play as starters over the course of the year.
An interesting position will be quarterback as Gunnar Watson has just completed his second year as a starter for Troy despite starting the 2021 season as a substitute. He eventually beat Taylor Powell for the No. 1 job, and Powell was traded after the season. Watson remains the only quarterback on Troy’s roster with just one pass attempt in a college game. Redshirt freshmen Kyle Toole, Will Carn and Quayde Hawkins are the only other quarterbacks who will be on the spring roster before Brantley native Tucker Kilcrease joins the roster this summer.
Troy opens spring camp on Tuesday, March 22 at 8 a.m.