The 2011 Alabama State football team begins its quest for the SWAC Championship Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. when fall practice opens at Hornet Stadium.
"We have high expectations," head coach Reggie Barlow said of his team which won the Eastern Division title last season. "We're coming from a different place; far different from where it was five years ago or even three years ago. We are at a place where we want to get back to the championship game and win it all this time."
Barlow and the football coaching staff will welcome approximately 90 players to camp, which opens with six consecutive practice days. The first two-a-day practice is scheduled for Monday, August 8.
"The opening of camp is always really exciting," Barlow said. "To see these guys when they walk in here, they have that look like they're ready to go. Some of the freshmen walk in cautiously not knowing what to expect. That combination of returners and newcomers is an exciting thing. I'm looking forward to our first meeting, letting them know our expectations and what we are trying to achieve throughout this training camp."
The mood and tone is much different entering this camp from years past. The Hornets won the division title last season and, while clearly proud of the accomplishment, are even more focused on the future.
"I've told every coach and player – there will be no Eastern Division championship rings brought in the building going forward," Barlow said. "Last year's season was a good one for us, but we don't want to dwell on it too much. We want to use it as motivation to get back to the SWAC Championship Game, but also finish the deal. That's where the ‘One Team, One Dream, Unfinished Business' theme comes into play. We're going to be emphasizing that the entire camp. It's about us. It's about our dream, and it's about us finishing the business we started last year. With a veteran team returning, Barlow and his coaches will begin camp at a fast tempo.
"With our older, experienced guys, we will press the gas with them. They've been through spring ball, and have been here this summer working out and training. They know the expectations," Barlow said. "However, anytime you go open camp, you do back to the core and basis of your offensive, defensive and special teams' philosophies. We will do that, but as far as expectations and playing fast, they will know what we want and we will be pressing the gas on that."
The defending Eastern Division Champions will be in ‘training camp' mode through Tuesday, August 16. The Hornets open their 2011 schedule at Mississippi Valley State on Sept. 3 at 5 p.m.