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Several FAMU Players Stand Out in Spring Game
The Green team of mostly starters from last year did what it was expected to do at Bragg Stadium, handily beating the Orange squad with plenty of help from a defensive unit that scored three touchdowns.
But on a balmy Saturday afternoon, a handful of Florida A&M players whose Orange squad fell 48-0 performed well enough to cause an argument that they have no intentions of being overlooked.
“There are about four or five guys that really showed today that they in some kind of way need to be in that 90,” coach Joe Taylor said, referring to the players who will be invited to preseason two-a-days in August.
Taylor was especially impressed with Andre Jacob who led the Orange team with 40 yards rushing on 12 carries. Red-shirt freshman receiver Jeremy Tillman also showed that he could be a candidate to bring depth to the receiving corps.
Last season, the Rattlers had the league’s leading scoring offense with 55 touchdowns, but just two weeks into spring practice the defense is clearly a step ahead of the unit that amassed 4,299 yards last year.
“Overall I was satisfied,” Taylor said. “I thought we competed as a team. I was a little concerned that we were a little bit sluggish with our punts and special teams but offensively I thought we competed.”
The Green’s secondary seemed strongest of the defensive segments, but the Orange wasn’t totally outdone as linebacker Damien Priester picked off quarterback Eddie Battle to give the unit its second scoring opportunity, which ended like the first — without a score — after a failed 23-yard field-goal attempt by Troy Walker.
Priester, who played sparingly last season, had two solo tackles that he hopes make Taylor’s highlight reel.
“I think I made a pretty good statement,” he said. “Coach told me that I’m competing for a starting job but I don’t have a starting job yet. I have to prove to him that I’m deserving.
“I was trying to do the best that I can do but at the same time I was trying to help my younger teammates. I can only do so much and if I don’t have the other 10 guys out there with me I can’t perform as well.”
Quarterback Curtis Pulley wasn’t spectacular, but he threw for the only touchdown scored on a pass. He was under center for 31 of the 50 plays ran by the Green team and completed 9 of 13 passes for 96 yards.
Battle was 3 of 11 for 43 yards. Pulley and Battle led the MEAC in pass efficiency last season with a 103.4 efficiency rate.
Quarterbacks Brian Gilmore and Martin Ukpai ran the Orange offense and combined for 129 yards passing.
“I thought we were a little bit more accurate with Pulley,” Taylor said. “A couple times, Eddie threw the ball in coverage, but it’s obvious that’s not going to be an issue for us. We’ve got two strong quarterbacks.”
The Rattlers should be deep at running back as well, especially with Philip Sylvester healthy. His last two seasons have been disrupted by injuries, but on Saturday he seemingly was the most explosive he’s been since his freshman season.
“It was just good blocking and all the training with (conditioning coach Antonio) Wallace,” said Sylvester, who carried the ball eight times for 91 yards. “The toe and the ankle are behind me now so we will be able to do some real special things this year.”
Several FAMU players stand out in spring game
By St. Clair Murraine, The Tallahassee Democrat