All of the sweat and hard work that Troy Trojan football players have put in during offseason workouts will have a chance to pay off finally as the 2019 season officially got underway on Friday, Aug. 2, with the first full practice of fall camp.
It was the first fall practice of new coach Chip Lindsey and it was also the return for starting quarterback Kaleb Barker, who tore his ACL midway through the 2018 season.
“It was real exciting to be out here,” Lindsey said. “Our guys flew around here with a lot of energy but at the same time we still have a lot to clean up and a lot to work on.
“The good thing is we have time to do it. I thought we made it through practice somewhat healthy and what we have to do now is watch the film, learn and get better tomorrow.”
Lindsey emphasized that for the first few days of practice – still in just helmets and T-shirts – the emphasis isn’t on physicality.
“The first few days without pads you don’t really want guys on the ground and what we’re really focused on now is effort and assignment,” he emphasized. “If we get the effort and assignment down before we get to pads then we’ll have a shot.”
Barker made a number of big throws during the first practice and also showed off that he still has the mobility he was known for as a young Trojan with some scrambles.
“For my first time out I was a little rusty but that’s to be expected,” Barker said. “It was a good day overall, though. We have a long ways to go but I feel good about where we’re at.”
Lindsey said that the team has confidence in Barker and he has confidence in himself, which will be big coming off of such a severe injury.
“I think Kaleb is a guy that is really talented obviously and he feels like this is his time coming back from the injury last year,” Lindsey said. “He’s really confident and the team is confident in him.”
Starting center Dylan Bradshaw said that he thinks this year’s team is already ahead of the 2018 Trojans.
“The first day of camp is what it is,” Bradshaw continued. “I think we looked good out there for the first day. We have a lot of things to improve on but if you look at last year’s first practice and this year’s, I think we look better this year.”
A number of newcomers and young players at the receiver position made big plays during the practice including sophomore Luke Whittemore, freshman Jaden Warren and junior college transfers Reggie Todd and Khalil McClain.
“We’re going to play with (fast) tempo and with four and five wide sets,” Lindsey said. “We have to make sure we have 8-10 guys that can get on the field and contribute for us.”
The Troy defense also got some good news for the future as former Auburn “bandit” linebacker Richard Jibunor was officially added to the Troy roster.
“He’s a great kid that was with us at Auburn and we’re excited to get him here and get him started,” Lindsey said. “He’s a good addition to our team but the thing for him is that he has to get himself into shape and ready to go. Down the road he’ll be a really good player for us.”
Jibunor had two sacks at Auburn in 2018 before entering the transfer portal, and will likely have to sit out the 2019 season.