|JCSU football drills ‘out of our control’ with coronavirus spread|
|Two weeks of valuable practices wiped out|
|Published Wednesday, March 18, 2020 10:26 am|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Johnson C. Smith football coach Kermit Blount supports the cancellation of spring drills due to the coronavirus pandemic, which cost the Golden Bulls 15 days of practice. “It’s tough but you know at the end of the day the number one priority is keeping these students safe, keeping the faculty and staff safe and trying to do our part to keep the world safe,” he said.|
Spring football has been part of Kermit Blount’s life since he was a high school quarterback in Richmond, Virginia in the 1970s.
That’s not the case in 2020.
Coronavirus wiped out offseason drills at Johnson C. Smith, taking away 15 days of practice, video study and coaching, but he’ll gladly sacrifice them in order to limit the global pandemic’s impact on his players and campus.
“It’s tough, but you know at the end of the day, the number one priority is keeping these students safe, keeping the faculty and staff safe and trying to help do our part to keep the world safe,” he said. “This is a very unfortunate virus that’s going around. But at the same time, you know we had to do the right thing and cancelling spring football practice and all the spring sports. …It’s unfortunate for us we won’t get a chance to hit the field and talk a little football and practice and have a chance to be around these young men, but you know it was something that had to be done.”
Spring drills represent opportunities for players – especially the inexperienced – to get in hundreds of repetitions that are the closest thing to game situations during the offseason.
“Believe it or not, in that 15 days of practice is 15 days of picking up and teaching,” Blount said. “Some of the new kids who are coming out and some of the freshmen that came in last year that did not get a chance to play that mainly did a lot of scout team stuff, didn’t get a chance to represent the offense and defense schemes a lot, so this was a vital point for them to come out and get better at their talents at their particular positions.”
Losing those spring reps can’t be duplicated, and the practice period is outside the fall semester, there’ll be with no relief from the NCAA to recover the schedule. The bottom line is the Golden Bulls are left to focus on preseason drills.
“Well, it’s tough to try to emulate spring football practice without actually going through and it’s the same deal with us trying to emulate game situations in practice,” Blount said. “You just can’t do it. You can try to simulate as best you can, but it’s not just something you can do. Right now, kids have to first of all focus in on their books because they’re going to do everything online, so it’s going to be extremely important that each of the guys buckle down wherever they may be and focus in on the academic side of it. And then secondly, continue to give them the workout in a closed environment where they could stay healthy and stay safe and just try to do the best they can and prepare themselves to look forward to August.”
Blount said he was encouraged by the players’ attention to the offseason program and looked forward to how it would translate to the field during spring drills. But guidance on how to limit COVID-19 squelched those plans.
“For sure, we were in the wake of the winter workouts, weight training and conditioning. The guys were very adamant and very consistently going out on their own and getting things done on the field. They were looking forward to spring football practice and so were we as coaches. But again, you know it’s something that’s out of our control and something that we have to deal with as a country.”
Still, there’s the disappointment of not watching the transition from a 4-6 campaign in 2019 to improvement on the field during spring ball. The work goes on, though.
“I think the biggest thing for us was making sure that we want to see the transformation from the hard work in the weight room and conditioning,” Blount said, “and we want to see that translate over to the football practice field, and we won’t get a chance to do that until August.”
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