South Carolina State's 18th season under the guidance of head football coach Buddy Pough begins in earnest at the end of this week.
The Bulldogs will report to camp on Thursday and begin practice on Friday, August 2, in preparation for the season-opener at home against Wofford College at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 31 at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
Friday's practice will begin at 2:30 p.m. Practices are free and open to the public. Visitors may enter Oliver. C. Dawson Stadium on the visitor's side and may sit in the stands to view practice. No spectators or fans are allowed on the field during practice.
After Friday's workout, the Bulldogs will conduct their second practice in a 9:30 a.m. session on Saturday morning with helmets. On Monday, Aug. 5, Pough's team will dress out in shells (shoulder pads, helmets and shorts) at 9:30 a.m. and again Tuesday, Aug. 7, in a 2:30 p.m. workout.
Pough is the second-winningest coach in the school's history with a record of 125-71 overall and has led the Bulldogs to six Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships during his tenure.
He needs just four more wins to become the all-time winningest coach in school history, a position currently held by Head Coach Emeritus Willie Jeffries (128-77-4).
"We think we've got a hard-working group that's going to be fast and excited about doing things," Pough said earlier this month. "We've got some guys we played last year who were really young pups and trying to find their way.
"We think they'll be back this year with a new sense of energy and ability, with some experience on their side. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what this team can be. I think we've got a chance to be pretty good."
A season ago, the Bulldogs started 0-4, but pushed to get back to 5-5, before falling to North Carolina Central to finish with a 5-6 record.
"Any time you go through a little bit of adversity together it's obvious that this is a group of guys who are really tough inside," Pough said. "I'm looking forward to see what they can do, given the circumstances of what we've been through and where we are headed.
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"I think we have a chance to have a good-looking group of guys. I'm just ready to get started on August 1."
Some of what Pough wants to see is the increased speed that some units will play with, another year older, stronger and faster.
"We've got some speed, some young guys back in our secondary who are developed now," Pough said. "Last year, at this time, they were 4.7 guys, and maybe 4.6 was our top guy. Now, we have some 4.3 guys and some 4.2 guys running in our tests a couple days back.
"And we've got a wide receiver or two who are deap-threat type guys. I like to throw the ball down the field. But, it's hard when you don't have anyone who can run fast. But, we've got some, including Shaq Davis from Summerville. He sat out last year and then ran a 4.3 and some change recently, at 6-foot-5-and-a-half. I'm excited to see how this summer has helped us going into fall practice."
The Bulldogs have 7 players with preseason All-MEAC honors. Senior offensive lineman Alex Taylor (6-foot-9, 315 pounds) earned First Team honors, while junior center Mike Terry, senior defensive linemen Tyrell Goodwin and Paul McKeiver, and redshirt junior quarterback Tyrece Nick each earned Second Team honors. Senior defensive end Bruce Johnson and redshirt junior defensive back Decobie Durant were named to the All-MEAC Third Team.
Season tickets for South Carolina State's five-game home schedule remain available. Reserved seating is available today and may be purchased by contacting the SC State Ticket Office by phone at 803-536-8579 or online at www.scsuathletics.com.
"If you enjoy seeing good football and you enjoy being in a place where you can go and enjoy yourself on a Saturday afternoon, while seeing a great group of guys run up and down the field and play the game right and do all the things that you've got to do to be a good football program, then we are it," Pough said. "It's not about the wins record or any of that, it's about going out and trying to be the very best team we can be.
"If records happen, they happen. But I won't lose a bit of sleep over whether they happen or not."
Fans interesting in joining the STATE CLUB for even greater fan benefits can visit www.thestateclub.com.