A&T Football holds season's first practiceEd Hardin
GREENSBORO — Footballs were flying around outside Aggie Stadium on a hot August afternoon. Coaches were screaming and players were sweating and Rod Broadway was smiling.
The old coach from Oakboro is in his element. He has his program where he wants it, and he’s not changing a thing.
“What’s the old saying?,” he asked, joking in front of the cameras. “We do chicken.”
No frills or fritters. A&T lost its best player but not its identity. This is a reloading season for the Aggies, and Broadway and his quarterback are looking to December.
“We’re going to be a good football team,” he said Tuesday, minutes before the first practice of the season, which starts in 28 days.
You don’t often hear coaches talk like that in August, but Broadway has seen times when he didn’t know if he was going to have a good football team or not, especially a month before playing the first game.
But the seventh-year head coach at North Carolina A&T has a simple reason for optimism.
“We have good players,” he said. “We have no excuses.”
Never one to duck from a challenge, he’s already lobbed one over his team’s head. Be good or else.
His quarterback is way ahead of him.
“We’re going to be great,” Lamar Raynard said.
Nothing much has changed at A&T, other than the best running back anyone from around here has ever seen is gone. Tarik Cohen, who ran for 5,619 yards and scored 59 touchdowns in the past four years is now in camp with the Chicago Bears.
“Tarik was a great player,” Broadway said. “I told people a couple years ago to sit back and watch and enjoy because you’re watching greatness.”
Now it’s North Carolina AT — After Tarik.
After 28 wins in three seasons, the Aggies are no longer looking back.
Cohen is gone, but the program remains strong if not stronger. A&T will be big, fast, talented and deep. The Aggies will be dangerous.
“We have more than we’ve ever had,” Broadway said.
And that’s the difference now that A&T is fully recovered from NCAA restrictions on scholarships and practice time. Broadway has a full roster and full staff for the first time. And if he can keep his quarterback healthy, it’s not clear that anyone in the MEAC can beat A&T, including nemesis N.C. Central.
Lamar Raynard, the returning quarterback, said the offseason has prepared the Aggies for what it now faces and the expectations of their coach.
“We all stayed here in the offseason and worked together,” he said.
That included all those seniors who have been waiting for this season to step out of the shadow of Cohen and Denzel Keyes and Marquis Ragland.
Raynard said he will take the leadership role this year.
“Lead my team,” he said when asked of his personal goal this year. “I’m going to be more vocal. The last couple of years I’ve been a little quiet, but this year I have to step up and lead my team.”
The Aggies were rolling right along last year with Raynard and the offense putting up remarkable numbers and winning seven straight games headed into the Central showdown. But a pectoral injury to Raynard changed everything, and the Aggies couldn’t finish what they started.
Still, a trip to the FCS playoffs rewarded A&T for its 9-2 regular season and might’ve given the team motivation for this year.
Broadway smiled when asked about it.
“When the smoke clears at the end, I know one thing,” Broadway said. “They hand out rings in December, and we want to be at the front of the line.”
Everyone’s talking about last year, and Broadway and his quarterback are talking about December. That’s how far things have come at A&T.
Everyone’s talking about Cohen, but Broadway and his quarterback are talking about Marquell Cartwright, the junior out of High Point.
“We’re going to have a great running game,” Raynard said.
“We go from all-world to all-conference,” Broadway said. “Don’t go to sleep on Cartwright.”...http://www.greensboro.com/sports/college/hardin-a-t-football-holds-season-s-st-practice/article_d7652163-8a46-5fad-877c-994b2fefcbad.html